There is so much pressure in releasing a debut album to the world. Depending on the size of your fanbase and where you are in your career, a debut album can be an introduction to the artist you want to be or a celebration of an artist reaching the point where they’re ready to release an official body of work to the world. For the young Swedish pop star Zara Larsson, her debut album So Good is mixture of both, showcasing the artist she has grown to be and celebrating her efforts to establish herself as a global artist.
If you’re a fan of the “Never Forget You” crooner than you know Larsson has been grinding since 2008, creating a name for herself through the Swedish version of Got Talent called Talang and later dominating the charts with smash singles and a certified platinum debut album released in Sweden. I became a fan of Zara when I saw her perform her heart-clenching duet “Never Forget You” with the amazing, soulful MNEK on BBC Radio Live Lounge and since then I’ve been excited to see her share her powerful voice and star potential to the world.
On March 17th Larsson dropped her international debut album So Good and it hasn’t left my music rotation since my initial listen. The 15 track collection of bops and ballads gives Zara enough time to showcase her ability to create hits (“Never Forget You” and “Lush Life”), experiment with different genres (“Sundown” is a BOP and has single potential written all over it) and a couple moments to slow things down and really prove herself as a singer (“I Can’t Fall in Love With You” has a genuine warmth to it). It took a few listens to confirm that So Good is in fact SO GOOD and I wasn’t gassing it up because I’m a fan but after a couple days with the album I can shout from the rooftops (Remember her song “Rooftop”? Give it a listen if you don’t) and say that Zara Larsson has a solid debut album on her hands and a lot of potential to truly break into the American mainstream music scene. But let’s dive a little deeper into this album.
What I love most about So Good is that it sounds like the type of album a 19 year old trying to find herself and show who she is as an artist would create. With writing credits on seven out of the 15 tracks, Larsson is definitely creating the music SHE wants to make and not solely relying on a couple of hot producers to put their magic on a track to craft a manufactured top 40 hit. I can hear the honesty on the opening track “What They Say” when she gives some advice to her young fans and tells them to follow their heart and ignore the noise. Or infectious bops like “So Good”, “Sundown” and “I Would Like” that show the Zara that just wants to turn up and have fun.
There is a song for everyone and every mood on So Good and so much potential for growth that I can ignore some of the hiccups. For example, when I first heard “Make That Money Girl” I couldn’t help but feel it sounded a little cheesy with some of the lines but after a few listens I couldn’t ignore the hard hitting beat, the trance like siren call in Larsson’s voice and remembering that Zara is a young woman with a lot of fans that need to hear some empowering words from their favorite artist. There isn’t anything glaringly bad about So Good and with an album longer than 10 tracks, it’s hard to avoid fillers so I’m content to hear who Zara Larsson is as an artist.
“Would you still want me / Without no makeup on my face / Without alcohol in your veins / Oh would you baby?” – “Don’t Let Me Be Yours”
Larsson cites mega superstars like Rihanna and the pregnant queen Beyonce as influences so the “TG4M” singer has a lot of work to do to reach that point but I’m happy to see a young artist push for authenticity in their work and personal life. When you see Zara in a interview or read her hilarious twitter, you see an unfiltered, woke artist and its dope to see a positive embodiment of a progressive teen in 2017. Keep shining Zara, the world will be bopping along in no time.
Stream / Support So Good Below:
Apple Music: HERE