Avril Lavigne - Head Above Water (Cover Artwork)

Avril Lavigne

Head Above Water (2019)


The thing that most legends have in common is their dedication to their craft, a willingness to take risks and a work ethic that does not quit; and the same is abundantly true of Canadian songstress Avril Lavigne. Kicking her career off way back in 2002, Lavigne built a solid legacy in the music business from the ground up. While working with artists such as Shania Twain, Alanis Morissette and Marilyn Manson, Lavigne learned first hand the true ins and outs of the music business and crafted her own unique sound. Best described as a mixture of indie and alternative with touches of mainstream pop, Lavigne’s many hit singles continue to provide a stellar soundtrack for her many fans’ lives.

To date, Lavigne has released six albums as well as having been nominated for an astounding 8 Grammy Awards, though she has only won zero of those nominations. Much of Lavigne’s work is known for its optimistic instrumentals mixed with bratty songwriting and sassy attitudes; and Lavigne often plays around with a more modern take on her musical creations while lyrically discussing important current issues surrounding our country today. Now, in 2019, Lavigne returns with her latest studio album, Head Above Water. Her first album since 2013’s self-titled record, Head Above Water is twelve tracks of sincere and motivational music that fans have patiently waited the past six years to hear.

Opening up the album, “Head Above Water” is a dynamic track with upbeat vibes that tie-in beautifully with Christian vibes, while still somehow adding a touch of sadness into the sonic mix. Seemingly channeling past energy with “Birdie,” this song has a low-key jam feeling to it. Next up with a lazy day attitude is the title-track, “Tell Me It's Over”, which possesses a great, positive message about keeping things hopeful. Then, changing up the direction a little with a touch of the whimsical, is “Dumb Blonde”; a blend of punk rock and urban carries the track on an easygoing instrumental journey. Vintage effects and slow dramatic vocals weave throughout the passionate “It Was In Me”, where a spotlight vibe on the vocals ties in beautifully with the slow burning track.

Shifting gears a little with a slightly different vocal style, “Love Me Insane” is observant of circumstances while also adding a dash of heart passion to the mix. A sweet and simple instrumental opens “Crush” and while the track feels peppy, a darker lyrical meaning exists yet does not overpower the overall relaxing atmosphere. A hot day in a bed  is what comes to mind for “Goddess,” where a hint of sassy meshes sonically with irony of Lavigne's songwriting. For its part, “Goddess” comes on with a playful note, wishing for a simpler time with breezy sonic flair. Bringing things right into 2019 – from electronic influences to lyrics with a message – “Bigger Wow” looks at and celebrates a sort of coming-of-age for Lavigne.

Overall, Head Above Water is not an album with a lot of dramatic highs and lows, though it is obvious that this album has some serious heart. In traditional Lavigne style, each track offers up a new perspective on the same old situations, and fans will quickly be singing along right away with the album. Head Above Water is a collection that harkens back to the 1990s though with modern touches added here and there throughout the album.

While some fans may argue that the album does not push itself to the max; and, as a result, the album feels hauntingly familiar. Exploring various emotions, including fear, is the focal point of this album and Lavigne's journey to be herself; reassurance is also a prevalent theme, as if to smooth out the fears of our restless, modern world. Putting listeners’ hearts at ease while also exploring the various ups and downs of everyday situations; providing motivation and reassurance that everything will indeed be just fine; and placing an upbeat spin on even the worst of circumstances is a hallmark of Lavigne's lyrical and sonic work and that is no different here. Head Above Water is set to earn a very warm place in fan’s hearts and for this.