Music and Movie Reviews | January 30th, 2024
“MJW1: Michael J. Woodard’s Debut EP Strikes a Chord with Heartbreak and Newfound Love”
By: Micah Barkley
New-found R&B singer Michael J. Woodard released his debut EP entitled “MJW1” on Jan. 12 of this year through singer Katy Perry’s record label, Unsub Records.
The 26-year-old singer, songwriter and producer has graced many stages, one of them being that of the talent show American Idol, where he placed top five during season 16. Although only six tracks, Woodard gives a distinctive summary of his sound and potential as an artist in MJW1 through the story of love from beginning to end.
Starting the EP off with the abstract piece “Hems”, serves as an intro to a relationship on the brink of failure.
With a direct start,
“You don’t see me, falling apart at the hems, coming apart at the seams…”,
we can draw the conclusion that Woodard is pushing the thought of a one-sided, painful relationship. As he continues on, the audience is made to understand the feeling of being so in love with someone that you ignore the pain they bestow upon you.
“I don’t wanna leave/ I don’t wanna get left/ Rather take your worst than someone’s best”
Hems is a heartbreaking tale of someone so blinded by familiarity and love, that they are purely aware they should move on but chooses not to;
“I know that I can find another one/ I want you to fix me up/I need you to put us back together”
Jumping off the back of “Hems,” Woodard then describes the characteristics and personality of this relationship’s other half, labeling them as “Trouble.”
“You ain’t nothing but some trouble, trouble, trouble”
This song dives into everything that can make a person addicted and how that plays into someone’s decision to stay with them or go; this melody also goes into the spiral of convincing oneself that maybe this toxicity is just what you need.
“You ain’t nothing but some trouble/maybe that’s what I need”
This one-of-a-kind tune discusses every crucial part of a toxic relationship, and Woodard couldn’t be more proud of his artistry for this song,
“This is the first single I chose that was on the roll-out for the EP, and hopefully after it finishes, you will understand why,” Woodard stated before the playing of “Trouble” during a Jan. 25 Press-Conference with º1824.
“Anti You” shows the realization that the relationship was a failure, but instead of never loving again, Woodard realizes the problem is the significant other,
“I’m not anti-love/ I’m just anti-you”
This song’s creative use of afro-beats to create a joyous tune and suggests a shift in mood from sorrow to cheerful, is something that Woodard intended to show through his EP,
“When you’re listening to an afro-beats song, a lot of the time you aren’t listening for a revelation about heartbreak…” Woodard tells Journey Magazine.
Woodard’s use of an afro-beat for this song was very strategic, and was used to reach many audiences.
“…what makes that record special is [that] you can vibe, move and bop to it just like you would do an afro-beats song but at the same time, there’s a relatability in there that you can also be triggered in the best way,” Woodard said.
The essential message of Anti You is that realizing your worth can come with the sadness of unnecessary baggage, but the hope of being free and finding new-found love is something to look forward to.
“I can’t wait to fall in love and give my heart to anybody else but you”
“Ruined” brings us off the high of new-found freedom, and accurately describes the reality of feelings after a breakup.
“Maybe next month, I’ll get over the idea of losing things I’m not supposed to.”
While taking us through this train ride of emotions, Woodard’s brilliant lyricism encodes this song full of serotonin, making the audience feel as if they are the ones suffering the breakup right alongside him.
“Oh, I hate to admit, but I’m still stuck on grieving / Seeing you happy just pulls me deeper/ Oh, I ain’t gonna lie and pretend like I’m still healing / when seeing you happy just pulls me deeper.”
The solemn, acoustic start to this song serves as the monologue to a potential new lover, explaining that after a heartbreak like the previous, it may be hard to move on and give your all to someone, even if you do love them.
“I’m tryna open up, tryna open my mind / It don’t always come out great, but I know it’s on my face”
Following the monologue comes the mix of drums and an upbeat rhythm, which serves as a hopeful reminder to the potential lover that Woodard is trying and invites them to stick around for a while.
Woodard continues to express his adoration for this new-found love through an internal monologue again, which the audience is only meant to understand, as opposed to him physically speaking it to his new love.
“You shine bright/ On every side/ You make me cry/ When I think about you/ You’re all I need, bad idea to give it up/ You know you the one, you my only one”
Face serves as the peak of the healing journey when you feel as though you are now able to move on but still find ways to reciprocate love after heartache.
“24 Hours” takes us home with a conclusion to this love cycle. After Woodard finds his love, he has now essentially ended his healing journey and is ready to start creating meaningful memories with his new happiness. This beautiful poem to a new lover expresses the happiness in Woodard’s heart and the excitement to have finally found love after pain.
“There’s been open space for you, I swear I’ll stay the same with you / And, oh, please don’t make me remember, all we got is just twenty-four hours”
While discussing his project and the diverse array of tunes picked, Woodard talked with Journey Magazine about the technicalities of picking what he wanted to debut for the world to see.
Journey Magazine: “Even though this was your debut EP, I bet there was a list of songs that you were trying to pick to show the world. How Many songs were considered for the EP, and why was this group of songs chosen?”
Woodard: “It was over 200… with me, all the records that I make are intentional, and there’s not one day that I don’t go into the studio with the possibility on my mind that the record we make that day will be heard.”
Woodard continues on by explaining that since being signed, creating his list of debut tracks was always at the forefront of his mind and that cutting songs from 200 to 100, to 20, and so on was a bit easier for him to do.
Woodard’s heartfelt EP MJW1 is one of many amazing projects he has in store for us, and he encourages us to follow him along on his journey as an emerging artist.
Listen to MJW1 here.