On Friday (May 11), singer-songwriter Charlie Puth released his highly anticipated sophomore album Voicenotes.
Having dabbled with the production side of things on his debut album Nine Track Mind, this time around Charlie decided to produce the entire album himself. This led to the album being pushed back from its original January release date as it wasn’t yet to his level of satisfaction.
Ahead of the album’s release, we heard six songs: ‘Attention’, ‘How Long’, ‘If You Leave Me Now’ with Boyz II Men, ‘Done For Me’ with Kehlani, ‘Change’ with James Taylor, and ‘The Way I Am’. Each track gave an insight into what we could expect from the full-length release, offering up elements of RnB, soul, and funk, alongside electric guitar-led beats, old school vibes, and stripped back offerings.
Promising his most personal and real album to date, and having been left captivated by the previously released tracks, we couldn’t wait to hear Voicenotes in full. The big question is: was the album worth the wait? Check out our track-by-track review below.
1. ‘The Way I Am’
Voicenotes kicks off in the perfect way with the last instant-grat track to be released, ‘The Way I Am’. It’s impossible not to be completely hooked on the infectious electric guitar which opens the track and appears throughout. Most importantly, the song allows Charlie to unapologetically be himself. After acknowledging his personality traits, the artist croons, “I’ma tell ’em all that you could either hate me or love me, but that’s just the way I am“. It’s clear that Charlie is ready to show the world the real him through his music, and whether you like it or not, it doesn’t matter as at least he is being true to himself.
‘Attention’ was the single which kickstarted the new era of Charlie’s sound, and despite being released over a year ago, the track remains as exciting as when we first heard it, making its mark as one of Charlie’s greatest releases to date. Once again, Charlie manages to capture us from the first few seconds thanks to the incredible bass line which runs throughout. Despite the song being an upbeat offering, Charlie’s emotion is still very much evident and before the final chorus, you can hear this voice break a little because he was consumed with emotion during that particular take.
3. ‘LA Girls’
Armed with an old school vibe, Charlie slows down the pace a little for ‘LA Girls’. The track explores a past relationship in which Charlie splits up with his girl back home with the intention of “moving on to bigger and better things“. However, after spending too much time with the ladies of LA, he realises that the love he wanted all along was waiting for him back home. “How the hell did I get caught up messin’ with these LA girls?” Charlie croons regretfully during this mid-tempo offering.
4. ‘How Long’
Released as the second song from Voicenotes, Charlie has mentioned on numerous occasions that ‘How Long’ is lyrically a continuation of ‘Attention’. In terms of its melody, the track is funky and has an incredible pop hook, making it completely irresistible to the ear. ‘How Long’ also showcases Charlie’s vocal range wonderfully. Most notably however, is the fact that the track was created solely on a tour bus using a tiny laptop, which we think is rather remarkable.
5. ‘Done For Me’ featuring Kehlani
‘Done For Me’ is one of three collaborations on Voicenotes, with this particular track featuring the dulcet tones of Kehlani. Acting as the final piece in the ‘Attention’/’How Long’ puzzle, ‘Done For Me’ is the final goodbye between both parties. The song is laced with an 80’s vibe thanks to the warm synthesizers and funk influences, but also showcases elements of pop and RnB throughout. Charlie and Kehlani’s vocals complement each other perfectly, resulting in a track which is very pleasing to the ear.
‘Patient’ is the first solid ballad on Voicenotes and sees an apologetic Charlie asking for a second chance with his lover. He acknowledges “These mistakes, I’ve made my fair share / When you needed me, I wasn’t there / I was young, I was dumb, I was so immature / And the things that I did made you so insecure“. However, he reassures his partner that “baby, I’m still your man, I swear” as he pleads for a chance to become the man she deserves. The track is a bit of a slow burner however, you cannot help but be taken in by Charlie’s emotion.
7. ‘If You Leave Me Now’ featuring Boyz II Men
‘If You Leave Me Now’ sees Charlie team up with the sensational Boyz II Men. What separates this track from the rest of the album so far is how stripped back it is. ‘If You Leave Me Now’ is a stunning a capella ballad which puts the focus on Charlie and Boyz II Men’s vocals. Once again, the emotion is incredibly powerful, with Charlie urging his partner not to leave him. “Cause girl, if you leave me now, if you’re givin’ up and just walk right out, you will take the biggest part of me“, he pleads.
Charlie switches the tempo up a little with ‘BOY’, which sees him being dumped by an older lover due to his age. “You tell me I’m too young, but I gave you what you wanted, baby, how dare you treat me just like like a boy“, Charlie croons over an irresistible synth-heavy beat. Once again, the song is laced with the retro vibe which is woven throughout the album, and it also has a captivating jazzy melody before the final chorus which adds to the 80’s feel.
9. ‘Slow It Down’
The 80’s funk influence is incredibly strong throughout ‘Slow It Down’. “Girl, you gotta slow it down, I’m not tryna fall for you“, sings Charlie as he tries to slow things down with a woman. However, it seems that “she knows just what she doin’, she f–kin’ with my head“, making it hard for Charlie to say no. ‘Slow It Down’ also features one of Charlie’s signature sequence of ‘ooh’s’, making it impossible for us not to sing along.
10. ‘Change’ featuring James Taylor
‘Change’ is a powerful ballad which sees Charlie team up with one of his biggest musical inspirations, James Taylor. The song, described as the most important one he’s ever written, was premiered during the March For Our Lives event earlier this year. It sees the pair plead for people to make a change in their lives and to be kind to one another, with them stating that “the day we know we’re all the same, together we can make that change“. ‘Change’ is one of the more stripped back tracks on the album, allowing for the poignant lyrics and vocals to take centre stage.
11. ‘Somebody Told Me’
‘Somebody Told Me’ is an infectious offering which is reminiscent of a classic driving song from the 80’s. The track sees Charlie face the reality that his lover is actually in love with someone else and has been for some time. “Maybe I should have noticed that I’m not the only one“, Charlie croons over the synth-laden beat. Considering the subject topic, the song could have been a brooding ballad, but instead Charlie has ensured that ‘Somebody Told Me’ is an earworm offering which will make you want to bop along. The track is very much a Voicenotes fan favourite, and we couldn’t agree more.
12. ‘Empty Cups’
Unleashing his seductive side, ‘Empty Cups’ is a flirty bop in which Charlie and a lucky lady are having difficulty keeping their hands off each other. “Hands on your body like there’s no one at the party, just me and you and these empty cups“, sings Charlie over a funk laden beat. The track is one of the most radio-ready offerings on the album, and we can definitely imagine this being a late summer release as all the sun drenched parties are coming to an end.
13. ‘Through It All’
Charlie brings the album to a close with ‘Through It All’, a piano ballad which sees the artist look back at the experiences he’s been through over the years. “You could say I lived a crazy life for a man so young, the kind that made me question my faith” he sings, whilst acknowledging the love, heartache and difficulties that he’s faced. However, the ballad takes a poignant turn as Charlie isn’t phased if “tomorrow never comes” as he’s already been through it all. This track wraps up the album perfectly as we’ve come around full circle. Voicenotes began with Charlie being unapologetically himself, and during the album we have seen him love, regret, and hurt but through it all he’s happy that “at least I did it all my way“.
Take a listen to Voicenotes below.
There is no doubt that Charlie Puth has put his heart and soul into his sophomore album and this leads to a definite growth and maturity in his sound, both lyrically and melodically. The instrumentation throughout is particularly striking, in addition to Charlie’s vocals which really get the chance to shine during ‘If You Leave Me Now’.
‘The Way I Am’, ‘Slow It Down’ and ‘Somebody Told Me’ are firm favourites of ours, alongside the smash hits ‘Attention’, ‘How Long’ and ‘Done For Me’. However, the body of work in general flows well, with each track giving us a glimpse into Charlie’s world and his incomparable passion for music.
These songs are Charlie’s most personal yet, not just because of his self-penned lyrics, but because he has carefully produced each and every track himself. It’s no secret that Charlie is a great singer and songwriter. However, with Voicenotes he has managed to push his creative boundaries, taking his sensational talent to new heights.
Are you loving Charlie Puth’s Voicenotes? Let us know what your favourite songs are by getting in touch on Twitter @CelebMix