Give or Take – Giveon

Of all the voices in R&B right now, Giveon’s baritone is among the most unique with a smoky register reminiscent of D’Angelo. The deep echoes of those vocals hint at the pain and vulnerability behind heartbreak. It’s mesmerizing and is the main reason that Giveon’s feature on Drake’s “Chicago Freestyle” propelled him into the spotlight. On his EP When It’s All Said and Done and followup album Take Time, Giveon relies heavily on that dynamic range to breathe life into his sensual ballads. Though it’s captivating, can it really carry him through another album in Give or Take? The answer seems to be no as the lack of effort behind Giveon’s vocal performances finally catches up with him.

Giveon’s brightest moments are when he actually attempts to be at the forefront of the song he’s singing. Most of the time, he’s nothing more than a bystander as he lets the nocturnal production on Give or Take do the heavy-lifting. Giveon feels like he’s on autopilot giving the bare minimum effort required to keep things afloat. His heartbreak anthems rarely evolve into real tear-jerkers simply because there’s no emotion behind the gorgeous vocals. Middling and motionless, songs like “Tryna Be” and “At Least We Tried” don’t have any weight behind Giveon’s dulcet tones.

On the album’s lead single “For Tonight”, you can hear the potential that Giveon is capable of as he breezes through different registers with the pains of heartbreak in his harmonies. It’s a shame that the rest of Give or Take doesn’t contain that same variety and effort. Two years in, it sounds like Giveon hasn’t made any personal growth in his sound and relies heavily on the gimmick of his unique voice and the power of a Drake feature. His musings on relationships are never particularly compelling and the production is nothing we haven’t heard before. There is a lot of potential that could be developed in his sound but unfortunately, he doesn’t seem interested in doing anything different. Give or Take is a disappointing follow-up to one of the most exciting voices we’ve heard in R&B in years. If Giveon continues this trajectory, I can’t imagine he will ever stand out from any of his contemporaries.

Must Listens: For Tonight, Lie Again, Unholy Matrimony


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I turned my incoherent ramblings on music, anime, and video games into an entire blog.

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