Album Review: Portraits by Greyson Chance
For years, Greyson Chance was simply one of those has-beens that you’d heard of and forgotten. After his album Hold On ‘Til the Night shot to fame in 2011, Chance’s name has been held in an almost Justin Bieber infamy, known only for catchy pop ballads like “Unfriend You” aimed for a specific tween audience. Thrust into the entertainment spotlight when he was only in sixth grade, Chance has joined the ranks of those like Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez who have witnessed the disastrous consequences of early-childhood fame and who had significant problems adjusting to a “normal” life.
However, Portraits (which debuted this month) is an album that can be categorized as not only a brutally honest reflection of the rickety slope that is fame, but also by a unique message about healing and the strength of familial relationships. Chance masterfully captures the tones of heartache, loss, and rediscovery, making this album an easy contender for one of the best indie records of the year.
The album starts with “shut up,” a song that details what it’s like to genuinely be in love but not being emotionally ready to reciprocate. Chance displays a vulnerability as he talks of past insecurities like “talking too much” and his “pure anxiety” that makes the song as catchy as it is familiar. It’s certainly a unique depiction of the feelings we often associate with a summer fling.
His next song “bleed you still” has similar poetic imagery, though now Chance must talk of the reverse: being ready to love but realizing your partner has moved on. The heavy beat provides a nice change from the upbeat melodies we are used to hearing and gives a more serious tone to Chance’s usually very poppy music.
Chance moves on to describe another type of love in “yours”: friendship. Chance assures his friends that no matter where fame carries him, he will always return for “late-night conversations.” This song reflects his lyrical diversity and his unique understanding of the different phases of the human experience.
Next, Chance allows a humorous, brief interlude where he talks about one time he experienced severe “Catholic guilt” and punishment from his mother after performing at a frat party. It’s a great introduction to “west texas,” easily the most emotional (and in our opinion, best) song on the album. Despite its strange, upbeat rhythm, “west texas” is a sincere thank you to his mother. Here, Chance is definitely at his most vulnerable, as he discusses all the lessons he’s had to learn before he could really cherish and implement the advice of his mother. It’s a reminder to us all of the strength and forgiveness that often comes with the bond of motherhood.
We’ll leave you to discover the rest of the tracks on your own, but we will say that this album was a perfect re-introduction to Greyson Chance and reflects the growth and change that has occurred in his own personal life. Overall, we consider the album a special type of masterpiece and highly recommend it for all audiences, as long as you don’t mind a little strong language.