What a refreshing thing it is when an artist drops a good very personal album. Many times, artists promise things that are raw and from the heart, but they fail to deliver. Not this time. Walls takes us deep inside the mind of Louis Tomlinson after a few years of a lot of pain, heartbreak, and grief.
This is Tomlinson’s solo debut; the last of the One Direction lads to release a full-length project. Prior to this, he gave us more of an electronic-pop sound with his Steve Aoki-assisted ‘Just Hold On’ and his duet with Bebe Rexha in ‘Back To You.’ On Walls, he explores a sound that better suits him: a mixture of brit pop and soft rock.
Going through the album, it’s clear to see why Tomlinson was one of the main songwriters in One Direction. There is a lot of likeness to some of those old tracks, especially the ballads. ‘Don’t Let It Break Your Heart’ and ‘Perfect Now’ sound like they could be One Direction songs. Where he most prevails though is where he gets very profound. ‘Two Of Us,’ a tribute to his late mother, really brings you into the song and makes you feel the pain he is going through.
A lot of the songwriting is about overcoming challenges – about the ups and downs of life. ‘Walls,’ the title song, showcases that will to keep going with lyrics such as ‘these high walls, they came up short, now I stand taller than them all.’ Meanwhile, ‘We Made It’ brings light to making something happen – to feeling accomplished.
In ‘Kill My Mind,’ he loosens up a little. It’s an exciting way to open up the album almost with an ode to 80’s and 90’s pop rock. It’s the one song that outstands the rest of the album lyrically. It’s way lighter in subject-matter compared to everything else explored in the album. For instance, in ‘Habit,’ he goes into the idea of loving without limitations – similar to what he delves into in ‘Defenceless.’ He advices the youth of the world to not let anyone’s opinion about them create chaos in who they are in ‘Fearless.’
Walls is a proper way for Tomlinson to let everyone know he has a lot to offer. It’s a solid effort full of emotions that somehow manages to turn negative experiences to positives with music. If we can learn anything from Tomlinson here, it’s that life is full of ups and downs no matter what – but everything can and will be okay.