Upbeat melodies and silky vocals disguise the dark themes that have haunted Gretta Ray through her early adulthood as a rising pop star in ‘Positive Spin’. The record often uses the façade of trusty bright pop melodies to hide its fragile diaristic nature. But rest assured, the Australian singer-songwriter is more than confident to let her fans into the inner workings of her brain. Therefore, making this an excellent environment to tell her stories in a vulnerable yet danceable way.
With noticeable influences that come from the indie and pop world, Ray’s ‘Positive Spin’ often resembles the gut-punching emotions of Taylor Swift’s ‘Speak Now.’ Yet her musical style veers in a different direction. With some soft emo semblances, rustic acoustic undertones and a hint of Americana, the 25-year-old makes her version of bubblegum pop all the more dynamic. In songs like ‘Nobody Here,’ ‘Don’t Date the Teenager,’ and the titular track, Ray really revels in the fact that lyrically and sonically they are on completely opposite sides of the spectrum. This way, giving her album multiple layers to go through.
Although, not every entry is structured like that. Possibly, one of the most encompassing tales in her repertoire ‘Dear Seventeen’ is a little bit more clear-cut. The undertone might still have slight cheery moments, but they never truly hide the depth of the words. The song sees Ray telling her younger self what happened in the years after her 2016 success with ‘Drive’. Sometimes in a playfully catchy manner like “Dear seventeen, you live at home still over half a decade later,” while others deal more with the reality of being an artist “go broke, but it’s the job you held out hope for.” Yet the real zingers come about when she throws in a cautionary tale “Dear seventeen, you’ll date a man twelve years your senior – you’re yet to meet, but in a year’s time though you should steer clear.”
However, ‘Dear Seventeen’ is thematically not the most heartbreaking song ‘Positive Spin’ has to offer. This comes as a result of Gretta Ray’s own philosophy. She much prefers “lifting you up instead of pulling you further down into that awful, weighty feeling,” the artist says. This is why it comes as even more of a surprise that possibly the most hopeful track of the record is kept as the last one and is a bit more slow-paced compared to the others.
‘America Forever’ sees Ray combine her talents with Maisie Peters and Carol Ades. As their voices blend together beautifully, the fragile feeling comes above and amplifies its dreamy nature. The majestic instrumentals allow the listener to finish up the album in a wistful and optimistic way. ‘Positive Spin’ is melancholic and heartbreaking at times, but its bubbly nature is always there to pick the listener right back up.
Words: Lauren deHollogne