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‘Live For Me’ Review: Omar Apollo Finds Closure

4.5 Stars

Cover artwork for "Live for Me" released October 6th.
Cover artwork for "Live for Me" released October 6th. By Courtesy of Omar Apollo
By Daniel T. Liu, Contributing Writer

Returning to the EP format after his critically acclaimed debut album “Ivory,” which earned him a nod from the Recording Academy for Best New Artist, Omar Apollo is at his most sincere in his latest four-song collection. Unveiling heartbreakingly tender moments of longing through his precise, evocative lyrics while honing his soulful and experimental sound, “Live for Me” reconsiders Apollo’s past and looks forward to the future.

Right off the bat, Apollo doesn’t hesitate to embrace his heavy memories. With the EP’s first single, “Ice Slippin,” the singer-songwriter traverses the carelessness of a cold home in a bare ballad that evolves into a heartbreakingly tender, fuller melody. In a press release, Apollo described the song as reliving the memory of “the winter [he] came out to [his] family” and the resulting lack of acceptance and “cold judgment” he faced.

Apollo leaves no hurt unsung.

“If I take back my words, would you return to me?” he begs, in a hauntingly sweet chorus that negotiates again and again between his family and a lifelong search for belonging. However, his ache for acceptance isn’t completely fruitless, and he finds some form of closure. A lush instrumental section of synths and a repeating solemn collection of voices leaves space for reflection, until the transition to the resurgence of his voice with bare accompaniment in the very last lines: “But I can still believe / I can make you proud.”

The eponymous song, “Live for Me” continues this search for new possibilities. Apollo confronts the brunt of his longing: “Won’t you live for me? / Or could I live for you?” His urge to live freely, and to live for the people he loves, transcends his fears of the consequences of coming out as he aspires toward personal acceptance. He transcends these fears sonically, in a heavenly, bold ascent featuring truly impressive vocals influenced by R&B sounds. His constant interrogation of the listener — “And tell me why you’d wanna go through it alone” — reflects his own reservations about embracing his desires while charting a path forward toward closure. Through this message the song becomes an ode to devoting oneself to another, no matter the costs.

An auto-tuned and metallic tone infiltrates the track “Angel,” communicating the climax of Apollo’s struggle, disrupting and distorting his voice to portray the singer at his lowest, pondering his own death: “Too young to grow wings, too young to be an angel.” The lyrics reflect on the life he’s led so far, as he stands at the brink of hopelessness: “Your mother needs you, whoa / Your father needs you.” This experimental sonic landscape features unearthly synths and heavy warping of his voice, ultimately distancing the song from Apollo’s humanity toward a celestial being, an angel of sorts. This separation lets Apollo look at his struggle from above, enhancing an intimate portrait of hurt while realizing hope. Delivered through a collection of digitized voices, Apollo’s computerized sound gives listeners a spiritual revelation unveiling the value and potential of their lives.

However, his experimentation doesn’t stop there. The album’s most genre-breaking song, “Pilot” escapes the boundaries of R&B, hip-hop, and pop in favor of a radiant, alluring mixture to end the EP. After grappling with his own relationship with love, by the EP’s end, Apollo has become self-assured in his expression of love — “So dark but I wish you the sun / So sad but I wish you love.” His warm, inviting tenor is paired with rhythm-heavy lines and addictive production, to create a sense of optimism. Overcoming his past struggle to accept his own queer identity, he’s found himself to be a source of love — “I still got you by any means / Said I got you” — becoming what he couldn’t have, and finding closure in embodying hope: “It doesn’t hurt forever / forever.”

Apollo’s latest EP is a thoughtful retelling of his own journey towards self-acceptance. His poignant voice accompanies him on the search for closure — finding belonging in love, family, and the music industry. “Live for Me,” then, exhibits his prowess in raw, emotive lyrics, embracing memories of hurt to create something hopeful and beautiful. In doing so, he finds a new future to love.

“I know it’s only four songs but they hold a lot of the weight I’ve been carrying throughout my life,” Apollo wrote in a statement. “I feel light now and ready for the next phase of whatever life has to offer.”

Returning to the EP format after his critically acclaimed debut album “Ivory,” which earned him a nod from the Recording Academy for Best New Artist, Omar Apollo is at his most sincere in his latest four-song collection. Unveiling heartbreakingly tender moments of longing through his precise, evocative lyrics while honing his soulful and experimental sound, “Live for Me” reconsiders Apollo’s past and looks forward to the future.

Right off the bat, Apollo doesn’t hesitate to embrace his heavy memories. With the EP’s first single, “Ice Slippin,” the singer-songwriter traverses the carelessness of a cold home in a bare ballad that evolves into a heartbreakingly tender, fuller melody. In a press release, Apollo described the song as reliving the memory of “the winter [he] came out to [his] family” and the resulting lack of acceptance and “cold judgment” he faced.

Apollo leaves no hurt unsung.

“If I take back my words, would you return to me?” he begs, in a hauntingly sweet chorus that negotiates again and again between his family and a lifelong search for belonging. However, his ache for acceptance isn’t completely fruitless, and he finds some form of closure. A lush instrumental section of synths and a repeating solemn collection of voices leaves space for reflection, until the transition to the resurgence of his voice with bare accompaniment in the very last lines: “But I can still believe / I can make you proud.”

The eponymous song, “Live for Me” continues this search for new possibilities. Apollo confronts the brunt of his longing: “Won’t you live for me? / Or could I live for you?” His urge to live freely, and to live for the people he loves, transcends his fears of the consequences of coming out as he aspires toward personal acceptance. He transcends these fears sonically, in a heavenly, bold ascent featuring truly impressive vocals influenced by R&B sounds. His constant interrogation of the listener — “And tell me why you’d wanna go through it alone” — reflects his own reservations about embracing his desires while charting a path forward toward closure. Through this message the song becomes an ode to devoting oneself to another, no matter the costs.

An auto-tuned and metallic tone infiltrates the track “Angel,” communicating the climax of Apollo’s struggle, disrupting and distorting his voice to portray the singer at his lowest, pondering his own death: “Too young to grow wings, too young to be an angel.” The lyrics reflect on the life he’s led so far, as he stands at the brink of hopelessness: “Your mother needs you, whoa / Your father needs you.” This experimental sonic landscape features unearthly synths and heavy warping of his voice, ultimately distancing the song from Apollo’s humanity toward a celestial being, an angel of sorts. This separation lets Apollo look at his struggle from above, enhancing an intimate portrait of hurt while realizing hope. Delivered through a collection of digitized voices, Apollo’s computerized sound gives listeners a spiritual revelation unveiling the value and potential of their lives.

However, his experimentation doesn’t stop there. The album’s most genre-breaking song, “Pilot” escapes the boundaries of R&B, hip-hop, and pop in favor of a radiant, alluring mixture to end the EP. After grappling with his own relationship with love, by the EP’s end, Apollo has become self-assured in his expression of love — “So dark but I wish you the sun / So sad but I wish you love.” His warm, inviting tenor is paired with rhythm-heavy lines and addictive production, to create a sense of optimism. Overcoming his past struggle to accept his own queer identity, he’s found himself to be a source of love — “I still got you by any means / Said I got you” — becoming what he couldn’t have, and finding closure in embodying hope: “It doesn’t hurt forever / forever.”

Apollo’s latest EP is a thoughtful retelling of his own journey towards self-acceptance. His poignant voice accompanies him on the search for closure — finding belonging in love, family, and the music industry. “Live for Me,” then, exhibits his prowess in raw, emotive lyrics, embracing memories of hurt to create something hopeful and beautiful. In doing so, he finds a new future to love.

“I know it’s only four songs but they hold a lot of the weight I’ve been carrying throughout my life,” Apollo wrote in a statement. “I feel light now and ready for the next phase of whatever life has to offer.”

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