Giveon says his quest to transform pain into something beautiful began with the music his mom would play while he was growing up—what he calls “Black woman heartbreak.” That included the stricken songs of Anita Baker, Mary J. Blige, and, later, Keyshia Cole. “I think that that rubbed off on me, and that's kind of my approach towards things at this point,” the singer tells Apple Music. When It's All Said and Done, even in its concision, is a page from that book as it maps the stages of a breakup through prideful posturing and palpable sorrow. Giveon’s breathtaking baritone soars through each of the tracks, singing each stage and feeling with convincing emotional intelligence. By the time the final song, “Stuck on You,” arrives, he sounds downright desperate in his anguish, accomplishing precisely what he set out to do—the sorrow of the lyrics combined with the aching in his tone bloom into radiance. “I kind of wanted it to be a little more elevated, because my voice is better now, and I have a better understanding of what it is exactly that I want,” he says. “I just wanted it to be a sense of an evolution, to see me growing slowly as an artist.” Here he tracks that evolution through the four songs on his second project of 2020.
When It’s All Said and Done “I kind of wanted it to start off a little less healthy. It's short, but it doesn't sound very healthy. Within like the 30 seconds that I'm singing in the intro, I say, 'I called you five times. I quit. I'm going to stop trying.' And I say, 'I'm going to be the best that you had.' So I wanted to open the project with a tone of frustration and kind of more toxic and in denial, because most breakups that I see aren't a smooth transition like that. So I wanted to keep it realistic and just start the project with frustration and bitterness.”
Still Your Best “With me, the way I hang around with my friends and the way we talk amongst the guys, it's kind of just an egotistical thing—even if it's all a facade. And as the project carries on, you could tell it becomes a facade. So this was just a coping mechanism to just pretend that you don't care. It's kind of like a song I released previously, 'LIKE I WANT YOU,' but the other side, the more egotistical level.”
Last Time “So I wanted to do an actual duet. That could easily be misconstrued—that I was just at home and [Snoh Aalegra] recorded somewhere and sent it. We were actually in a studio at the same time with masks and stuff. We were just going back and forth, and I wanted it to sound like we were singing in the same mic at the same time. The lyrics sound like we're together, and the lyrics are very intimate, so I wanted the song to be just as intimate and connected in the same way. And conceptually, the transition into that song—the phone is ringing, so it's kind of like a sign that when you're alone and all your friends leave and you're done talking all that, like, macho, denial, ego stuff, you still end up calling that person anyway, so it's all a facade. The way I approach my songwriting in general, I want it to sound less like poetry and more like dialogue, so with that, I wanted us to sound like we were literally having that conversation.”
Stuck on You “[This is when] your friends don't even want to hear about it no more. They just like, 'All right, whatever. I don't care.' That's why I put it in at the end, because you can see kind of that flow of emotions, and that's just the acceptance. That's what I like to call that part of it—just accepting that you're not really going anywhere and everything that was being said is just fake. I think about the songs my mom was playing around the house and the songs I listened to. I don't think I've heard that angle and that perspective of 'I'm embarrassed.' I'm not sure I've heard that before.”