Summer Walker returns and is no longer playing games.
Summer Walker loves creating music but despises the music industry.
She regularly considers retirement and ended her 2019 tour early because of social anxiety. "I hope that people understand and respect that at the end of the day I'm a person, I have feelings, I get tired, I get sad," she said in a video post. "I don't want to lose myself for someone else." She was relentlessly vilified for her decision. Fans cited stiff meet-and-greets and chalked up Walker's cancellations to a sense of entitlement.
Then she was presented with the "Best New Artist" award at the 2019 Soul Train Awards, and her hurried acceptance speech was dissected by tasteless memes all across the country. Walker's candid cries for understanding remained completely ignored by years end. The truth of the matter is that Walker suffers from anxiety and stage fright that is all but totally crippling. So she did what any misunderstood artist does, she disappeared and stopped saying anything at all.
But the singer's sultry R&B has always spoken for Walker in a way she could never articulate otherwise. Her debut LP Over It was a modest collection of contemporary soul music that evaluated the messiness of being human. Being human is hard enough, and being a famous human seems downright impossible, especially if you're as introverted as Walker claims to be.
So with no promotion and no interviews, Walker instead took to outer space and released Life on Earth, dismissing fame's enervative expectations altogether. "What have you become?" she asks implicitly of her critics on "Let It Go," only to stop herself and realize, "Matter fact, no, that's what you've been."
Summer Walker - SWV [Lyric Video] www.youtube.com
The emotional roller coasters the singer creates are especially palpable this time around. Her explorations of relationships remain insightful and telling about how she plans to move forward. Walker refuses to apologize. "I'm feelin' brand new," she says in defiance on "SWV."
Her voice, honeyed but commanding, fuels her ability to bite back at those who falsely claimed to unify alongside her. While Over It had its fair share of meandering anecdotes, Life on Earth is concise and to the point, and none of the space feels wasted. The production, mainly handled by London on da Track and NO1-NOAH, slows to a slinky crawl, while Walker compels us to slow down with her and be present in each moment.
"Days gettin' longer, drugs been gettin' harder to find," she says in a moment of defeat on "My Affection," before bouncing back with an air of confidence that says she's already made up her mind about how to proceed anyway. "I like stuntin' on my friends," she says on the buoyant "SWV," "and I'm flexin for life."
While a handful of guest features from newcomer NO1-NOAH and PARTYNEXTDOOR feel welcomed, Walker really never needs the boost. On the EP's artwork, she stands tall, towering above the sunset completely alone, ready to do whatever she pleases with no strings attached. "I am a child of God," she calls out on "Let It Go." "So I cannot be touched."
If you've written Summer Walker off as arrogant or entitled in the past, maybe it's time you start to listen to what the singer actually has to say in the language she knows best: Music.
Life On Earth - EP