The Wolves is a moody, build up intro to the tracklist, something fresh that is still very much Amy Shark, with it is clean drums and vocal production, is the perfect opener for new album Cry Forever. Powerful lyrics and vocal delivery, it makes a very good impression for the rest of the album, starting off the record on a high note.
It is promptly followed up by the first single off the album, Everybody Rise, another of many Amy Shark track to be produced by leading international producer Joel Little, an integral part of the Amy Shark hit recipe. Like many of her songs, the song deals with themes of unrequited love, and the music video suggests something of an almost religious nature, which gives it a subtle Hozier-‘Take Me To Church’ sort of twist’.
Worst Day Of My Life gives an acoustic pop-punk feel, with it’s deeper percussion over the usually harsher percussion. It isn’t a spectacular song but would definitely be a powerful addition to Amy’s live set. Amy doing her own backup vocals is a nice part of the track, which is very reliant on the reputative guitar finger-riff comprising most of the track.
We are then brought back to the second single, C’MON featuring Blink-182’s Travis Barker, who has been expanding his horizons collaborating with a massive number of artists these last three years, becoming that feature artist that everybody seems to want, after transforming the careers of Machine Gun Kelly and YUNGBLUD. The song carries on that power anthem high Amy got off her 2018 hit I Said Hi, which she does well, bouncing back and forth between her dangerous-feeling lower vocals she balances so perfectly before exploding into her shouty hooks and Travis’s signature drum sound. Produced by big names Dan Hume and M-Phazes, the second of which was regarded in some circles for a while to be the best producer in Australia, before he relocated to Los Angeles, is famous for shaping Australia’s hip hop sound before working with acts like Amy, Ruel and even some big guns like Eminem, 2Chainz and Fifth Harmony. M-Phazes, also known as Mark Landon, was also one half of the production team on Amy’s breakout hit single Adore way back in 2016, which earned her the number 2 spot behind Flume in the Triple J Hottest 100 that year, a very impressing feat indeed.
The following track All The Lies About Me is the first song in the tracklist that does begin to feel like a filler, with it’s beautiful production trumping the actual lyrics and vocals, which lack a certain oomph to them, giving it that very ‘average’ Amy song appeal.
After that, we can hear the very different Miss You, which has a bit more of an electronic feel to it, reminiscent of acts like Purity Ring, or Cub Sport (who Amy supported on tour in her early breakout days). One of the best tracks on the album, Amy delivers falsetto vocals over a mellow synth beat that sounds like it belongs in Tron Legacy, with some almost Lana Del Rey inspired vocal style, which is a very effective new addition to Amy’s arsenal. The track by the enigmatic Sam de Jong, another Kiwi producer, most famous for his work with Lennon Stella, Alec Benjamin and Thirty Seconds To Mars. Jong’s work on the track is spectacular, especially the drums, but it is crafter to sit just right so that it doesn’t compete with or overtake the vocals, making it a truly flawless Amy Shark song.
Love Songs Aren’t For Us is the third single from the album, and features the global country-music star Keith Urban, who’s buzzy vocal harmonies gel perfectly with Amy’s chorus, that is very obviously written by Ed Sheeran, who surprisingly does not have any recorded appearance on the track. It is very made-for-radio, and has a very poppy feel, which is fitting as Amy is ultimately a pop star, but does that little bit more to set her current catalogue apart from her early indie sound that made her blow up, and no amount of acoustic guitars in her songs can change that.
The opening lyrics on I’ll be Yours sound like a bad pickup line, which everyone knows make great song lyrics. The song starts off strong, and is another M-Phazes produced track, with stretched out wooing vocals, and simple, but effective guitarwork. It is a pleasant track, but as it goes on seems to lack diverse sounds/lyrical as it content doesn’t prevent it from being lumped in the same category as All The Lies About Me: a skippable song.
Amy makes up for it however, on the following track You’ll Never Meet Anyone Like Me Again, a gentle ballad that properly achieves the ‘stripped-back’ feel that we get the impression she’s been building up to for a majority of the record. Co-written and produced by Dan Wilson, known for his work both as a solo artist, with his band Semisonic, and as a producer/writer for John Legend, Taylor Swift and P!nk.
That Girl is a strong-written track with great lyrics; “And it’s no secret I lost my mind, the day you left my life, And I crack my neck my neck from side-to-side, people ask me why”. Such lines, seemingly uninteresting from any other artist, somehow sound edgy and cool as soon as Amy croons them with that unique voice she has, despite certain elements of her vocal delivery getting a little too ‘whiney’ in this track, but that is the pop-punk influence she very patriotic wears on her sleeve constantly, and it doesn’t devalue the song too much. The lyrics are very empowering for women and is a great piece of writing on Amy’s part.
Lonely Still is another slower, acoustic guitar driven track that really showcase the best of Amy, starting off like a ballad, and then transforms quickly into a great indie-pop song, probably the closest Amy has gotten sonically to her old sound for a long time, and does a stella job. The only issue with this song is it only goes for two minutes and fifty seconds, and leaves the listener wanting more.
The second last song of the album is Baby Steps, not a particularly amazing track lyrically but definitely one I listen to the whole way through every time, and possesses a bit more of a country vibe thanks to Dan Hum’s work on the bass and guitar throughout the track, and Amy’s closing line brings a very Tom De Longe feel to it, making a very unique track that definitely deserved to be the 5th single of the record.
Just like her last album, Amy saved her best song for last, with the song Amy Shark. A very personal and poignant piece of art, definitely in the same vein as her last records closing track (You Think I Think I Sound Like God). Amy’s ability to connect to the listener emotionally through her relatable perspective and longing vocals is extraordinary. A track that was at first speculated by fans on Instagram as Amy becoming a bit precocious (naming a song after yourself) when she first revealed the track listing for Cry Forever, is hands down one her greatest lyrical and emotional moments as an artist and really goes against any doubts anyone has ever put in her abilities, completely diminishing any thought of being a one-hit wonder. It songs like these that separate an artist from a pop star, even though she does both roles pretty damn well. Cry Forever is one of the best sophomore albums from an Australian artist in the last few years.