Here’s the reality: All Saints are an amazing girl group. Ready for a second fact? I was nervous as hell when they announced more new music. Why? It’s fairly simple, really: I’m worried that they are tainting their legacy.
All Saints were super popular at the height of their career. With the help of Shaznay Lewis’ songwriting skills, they even racked up some #1 singles. Need I remind you that “Never Ever” is them? Put this on at a party and every millennial will suddenly drown in memories.
If they had faded away after their very public breakup in 2001, All Saints would have been remembered quite fondly in the minds of music lovers across the globe. Apparently, a cushy place in the public’s memory wasn’t enough!
They came back on the scene with the lukewarm lead single, “Love Lasts Forever.” They followed up with “Glorious,” a promotional single which I deemed hot trash song just pure seconds in. It literally sounds like the song that gets played in the background of a teen soap opera when one of the main characters finally decides to stand up to the school bully.
My heart was feeling heavy but “Three Four” appeared and, luckily, this brought a sliver of hope. While the intro is a bit too long, the song is undoubtedly enjoyable. It’s actually a pretty good song to sing along with while in the shower. I wouldn’t know from personal experience, though.
“Don’t Look Over Your Shoulder” came next. I looked up to the sky and wondered if I had any Xanax left. Their cat-and-mouse strategy of good song/bad song was wreaking havoc on my mental stability. The results were in and I was not here for it. I thought “They should’ve never come back. They’re ruining everything.”
But then something magical happened: “After All” showed up and erased all of their previous sins.
All the reasons why we said it’s over / Doesn’t seem to matter after all
There was something ’bout the way / There was something ’bout the way
You used to love…
“After All” was produced by William Orbit and became the official second single. When the album was finally released, I found it difficult to listen to anything else besides this track. I’m still finding it difficult. Why? “After All” is smooth and sweet. It’s strong yet vulnerable. It gives you old-school All Saints vibes without dipping too much in the realm of nostalgia. When Shaznay gets it right, she really does knock it out of the park. I’d argue that she just might be one of the most talented Pop/Rock songwriters of the last 20-something years.
I suppose Testament is the All Saints album we’ve been waiting for since 2001. But so was its predecessor, Red Flag. ? To be honest, both albums are riddled with filler tracks. It’s to be expected, right? An album with no “filler” is incredibly rare these days. It’s a pity because it’s clear that Shaznay’s writing skills are fantastic, her ability to co-write is equally strong, but there’s something that seems to be missing. It’s almost like she runs out of steam and then we get, well, filler.
I am in no way trying to put all of the weight on this one woman’s shoulders. I wish she had more stellar help like with Orbit because some of those in her camp aren’t issuing out any major assistance.
What I thought would be a fun exercise is to take the best from both albums and trash the rest in a playlist which should’ve simply been their proper 4th album. It’s called Focused. Heads up: a couple of tracks from 2006’s Studio 1 make the cut because, well, they’re just damn good Pop songs.
If All Saints come back with a new album in a couple of years, I hope that Shaznay will diversify the pool of creators she works with. The band members have all talked about how they’re not in it for the sales, that critical claim is amazing, and it really is “all about the music.”
That’s very noble of them to say but, Shaznay, wouldn’t it be nice to crush the charts again with a Pop banger? Trust me. Your fans (and their ears) wouldn’t be mad at that.