Sabrina Carpenter showcases talent, maturity in pop perfection ‘Singular: Act 1’

Sabrina Carpenter performs at 102.7 KIIS FM's Jingle Ball Village in Los Angeles on Dec. 2, 2016. Justin Higuchi via Wikimedia Commons

Former Disney Channel stars have often traveled down similar roads to success in the music industry. From Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez to Hilary Duff, these childhood favorites went on to produce fun pop hits (or, in the case of Cyrus, controversial pop bangers and scandalous music videos). The newest member of this group is Sabrina Carpenter, whose latest release, “Singular: Act 1,” is a fantastic piece of pop music that shows impressive maturity and growth.

Carpenter’s musical career began in the folk pop realm with “Eyes Wide Open” (2015), which earned a positive critical reception and a growing audience of listeners. Her role as Maya Hart in the “Boy Meets World” (1993–2000) spinoff, “Girl Meets World” (2014–2017), was also helpful in securing Carpenter a fan base. Those fans may represent more of a Disney Channel audience, but Carpenter deserves far more attention in the mainstream music industry.

With her second album, “Evolution” (2016), Carpenter explored electropop, producing the dance bop “Thumbs,” the second single off the album. “Evolution” brought Carpenter into the spotlight, peaking at No. 28 on the U.S. Billboard 200 as she embarked on her first headlining concert tour with the Evolution Tour. Now, the release of “Singular: Act 1” reminds listeners that Carpenter is wise beyond her years.

The album’s lead single, “Almost Love,” is an infectious opening — grand and catchy. It is the perfect way for “Singular: Act 1” to set the stage for the following seven songs. “Paris,” an album standout and hopefully a future single, feels smoky and gives Carpenter the space to tell an interesting story about her Los Angeles-based lover while she lives in Paris. It is slow-burning pop that is surprisingly complex from the 19-year-old singer — then again, Carpenter’s maturity is a strong theme in “Singular: Act 1,” both lyrically and sonically.

Following the slinky R&B hit “Hold Tight” (feat. Uhmeer) comes the album’s second single,“Sue Me,” which features some of Carpenter’s most infectious lyrics and a chorus that could easily play on radio stations for months to come. “prfct” is a slower jam, a nice break in the album’s nonstop performance. “Bad Time,” a promotional single off the album, features Carpenter blowing off an ex-lover, telling them that they’ve “called at a bad time/and every time is probably gonna be a bad time.” The song is cheeky and represents Carpenter’s most free-spirited performance on the album.

The album’s closing songs, “Mona Lisa” and “Diamonds are Forever,” are great pop anthems, as Carpenter uses the former to compare herself to the famous da Vinci portrait. “Diamonds are Forever” is empowering, with Carpenter’s voice taking center stage on the album’s finale. It is a smart choice for closing out “Singular: Act 1,” since it allows Carpenter to maintain her themes of love and romance while exploring them in depth.

Sonically, “Singular: Act 1” is a perfect pop album. Its runtime, around 25 minutes, may seem short but it gives listeners just enough music to enjoy before Carpenter releases the album’s successor, “Singular: Act 2,” which she has confirmed is “coming soon.” There is a polished feel to “Singular: Act 1,” which Carpenter has accomplished despite her youth. The 19-year-old’s maturity is admirable and represents yet another reason why audiences should pay closer attention to her.

Carpenter is well-deserving of more attention, even among the ranks of other Disney Channel stars-turned-singers. Her vocals are strong, and she is able to generate pop hits that listeners and radio stations should devour more. There is a consistency with Carpenter that cannot be matched by other ex-Disney acts — something she deserves far more credit for.

With “Singular: Act 1,” Sabrina Carpenter releases perfect pop music that allows listeners to explore the many layers of love and romance. From the album’s pop bangers like “Almost Love,” “Paris” and “Bad Time” to its slower jams, such as “Hold Tight” and “prfct,” Carpenter creates an album of eight great songs. It is a mature and surprisingly polished release from a former Disney Channel star, putting Carpenter in a field of her own.


"Singular: Act 1" is an accomplished and surprisingly mature release from a former Disney Channel star, putting Sabrina Carpenter in a field of her own.

4 stars