Navy Blue’s ‘Ways of Knowing’ Review – An Exercise in Growth.

Jack Reynolds

Model, skater, artist. Sage Elsesser can do it all. Yet, in ‘Ways of Knowing’, Sage ignores his achievements and focuses on his family and growth.

Elsesser, who goes by the stage name ‘Navy Blue’, has always featured his family in his art, with his older sister even starring in the music video for the 2021 track ‘Primo’. However, his newest album decides to centre his family, along with his growth as a person. No song does this better than ‘Pillars’. Elsesser juxtaposes his former tradition of kissing his grandmother’s forehead with the acceptance of her death, singing, “With time, I’ll bring flowers to her grave, grave, grave, Every morning, kiss her forehead when I wake, wake, wake”. Accepting his grandmother’s departure and celebrating the beauty of her life is a phenomenal adjustment for Sage, as he showcases that he is healing and finding joy in the pain. In contrast, his previous albums leaned towards wallowing in darkness.

Elsesser’s growth as a person is a spotlight of a majority of the songs on the album, as his healing takes the main stage. On ‘Life’s Terms’, he goes as far as to state he’s fully achieved growth, exclaiming “, I put my all in tryna pick apart these flaws that I wear, Aw yeah, this broken heart that I’m repairing, I declare growth!”  This constant focus on his development of himself is a shining star of the album, as every listener can’t help but find comfort in Navy Blue’s newfound happiness.

In previous bodies of work, Navy Blue adopted the [sLUMs] style that has been thriving in the underground of New York, but on his newest release, he chooses to rely less heavily on the sound, transitioning to a stronger and more confident production route that mirrors the theme of growth that is so prevalent on the album. Songs such as ‘Kill Switch’ and ‘The One’ find Elsesser experimenting with new flows to great success, as we are met with some of the most entertaining tracks of his career so far.

As the album draws to a close, we are faced with one of the most personal songs of Navy Blue’s career. ‘Shadow’s Shield’ opens with a message to Sage from his mother, as she commends him for facing his challenges in life and growing as a person. As her message comes to a close, she says, “love still reigns supreme and conquers hate”. This line sums up the album, as the love from Navy Blue’s entire family allowed him to find solace in his tribulations. While Elsesser reveals that his pain is still on the track, he lets it be known that he will not stop fighting to heal his wounds. The song and the album come to a close with a message from Elsesser’s dad, telling his son that he loves him.

Overall, ‘Ways of Knowing’ is a journey of Navy Blue’s development, paying tribute to his family for their help. The album feels like a celebration of the power of love in your surroundings, and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone seeking comfort.

Jack Reynolds