Rachel Platten's 'Waves' shows she is one of pop's most likable singers

PHOTO: Rachel Platten performs onstage during the Tim McGraw and Faith Hill "Soul2Soul" World Tour at Staples Center, July 14, 2017, in Los Angeles.Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Rachel Platten performs onstage during the Tim McGraw and Faith Hill "Soul2Soul" World Tour at Staples Center, July 14, 2017, in Los Angeles.

Rachel Platten’s “Waves”
***1/2

Rachel Platten hit the big time with “Fight Song,” a song from her major label debut "Wildfire," that perfectly balanced catchiness with uplifting sentiment. “Waves” continues where “Wildfire” left off, showcasing Platten as a likable singer-songwriter capable of selling inspirational pop tunes.

Platten sounds even more confident here. Her tracks exude a strong sense of self and she sounds strongly anchored, even if the production is a tad glossier than before. The electro-effect over her voice is sometimes distracting.

This record is mostly just trying to find her next “Fight Song,” and there are a few contenders. Notably, the slightly club-ready “Broken Glass,” which has already made a bit of impact seems promising, as does the soulful “Collide.” If Platten wants to be the next dance-pop superstar, "Shivers” has significant pull. Even “Loose Ends,” which sounds a bit too much like a rewrite of “Fight Song,” has some charm.

PHOTO: Rachel Platten - WavesAmazon
Rachel Platten - "Waves"

This album finds its sweet spot with its gleefully synthy edges. The tightly-wound “Keep Up” is a keeper while the beautiful “Whole Heart” takes a marimba-esque verse section and combines it with a stomping chorus full of “heys” and “whoas.” While this is rather textbook modern pop, Platten somehow pulls it off without seeming faceless. She has charisma that is only slightly dampened by the occasionally overzealous production.

Platten's songs often are cemented by a strong message to believe in one’s self. It may seem cheesy to the cynical listeners, but she always sounds like she believes every word she says. You have to give her credit for attempting to turn her art into an inspiring platform. Even when she gets a little too over-the-top on the self-referencing “Good Life,” you can’t help but root for her.

“Waves” is not only a decent pop record, it shows that Rachel Platten has many more "Fight Song(s)" ahead.

Focus Tracks:

“Broken Glass” A song that seems inspired by the Women’s March and the events over the last year, this is a dance anthem about breaking the glass ceiling.

“Grace” This closing ballad is a plea for peace that fittingly ends with emerging chatter below the mix. This is a lush track that shows off her vocal skills at the beginning before the electro-effects seep further into the mix.

“Hands” A tender tribute to family history, Platten pays loving tribute to those who helped shape her. The included phone-message snippets are key to making this point.

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