The last time we heard from singer/songwriter Andre Henry was on his 2014 EP Roses While We're Young. In the time since then, a lot has changed. Racial tension and political strife in the US is high, a situation that is only exacerbated by that person who's currently in the White House. Perhaps that's why Andre, whose last project was more so focused on love, has switched gears a bit for his upcoming EP, It Doesn't Have To Be This Way. That's especially true for the EP's contemplative title track, of which SoulBounce is bringing you an exclusive first listen.
"It Doesn't Have To Be This Way" finds Andre taking on topics head-on rather than beating around the bush. "I see the children across the sea/Left on the floor like trash and debris," he begins as synthesizers and layered vocals surround and support his verse. "Shattering windows, flashing lights/Bullets tear the dark skin of the night/The sound of my swearing at the skies/It doesn't have to be/No, it doesn't have to be this way," he continues as he tries to make sense of what's going on in society these days. While his lyrics are sobering, the song itself offers a bit of hope both in its delivery and feel as it offers observations of life but makes sure to highlight the grace of the everyday by reminding us of our power, singing, "The power you've been given/Is a power you should live in/The world is in the shape that we choose."
"For about a year now, I've been doing a lot of art and activism around social justice," Andre said about what inspired the track. "'It Doesn't Have to Be This Way' captures the essence of everything I want to say in one sentence. The refugee crisis, climate change, nuclear war, systemic racism, frequent mass shootings, global poverty — you name it — things do not have to be this way. I say that because humans have demonstrated the power to shape history and the world. Society hasn't come to be arranged the way it is by chance, or natural law, or the will of God, but by human choices. We can choose differently. It reminds of this quote from Wes Nisker: 'If you don't like the news...go out and make some of your own.'"
Andre's aim is to do just that with the upcoming EP. "I think [you] might recall that over the years most of my releases have been romantic. This project is a topical break from that," he told us. "The heart of this project is me telling my truth as a black man living in America. Everything from my angst about police brutality to my frustrations with churches who won't talk about justice is on this project, in addition to some love lost and found. My blackness is Caribbean, so there's a lot of reggae vibes in this project, as you can hear on 'It Doesn't Have to Be This Way.' I like calling the general sound of this project 'future reggae.'"
Sounds like the singer will be offering a lot to think about and vibe to when the EP arrives early next year. Give "It Doesn't Have To Be This Way" a spin below. You can also support the message and the music by picking up your own copy of the single on Bandcamp and streaming it on Spotify.