Singer-songwriter extraordinaire Julia Michaels releases her debut album, 'Not In Chronological Order' after a lengthy gestation.
Speaking about the album’s title, Julia shares: “When I was looking at the tracklisting, it literally was not in chronological order of the events that it took place in my life. The way that I saw the tracklisting in my head, a lot of the heartbreak came in the middle, and finding new love came at the end. That’s the arc of this album: I’m not bitter about love anymore. I know what functional love is like and being in love and being hesitant about that love because it feels so perfect.”
Julia’s sway over the sound of modern pop music is vast, having written hit songs for Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Fifth Harmony, Shawn Mendes, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Hailee Steinfeld, and Gwen Stefani. Her songwriting gift has generated a trio of Grammy nominations, along with an array of other nominations from MTV’s Video Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and American Music Awards. In other words, she retains the magic touch. Mostly, her songs revolve around the gamut of profound human emotions, such as love and loss. But what sets her apart is her authenticity, meaning she eschews gimmicks, both lyrical and musical, while simultaneously defying what’s in vogue.
'Not In Chronological Order' encompasses 10-tracks, beginning with 'All Your Exes', an intimate pop- punk-flavored song about the green-eyed monster. Opening on a gentle, gleaming guitar topped by Julia’s evocative voice narrating her jealousy, the harmonics shift to hefty thrumming tones riding a dark, pulsating rhythm.
“I wanna live in a world where all your exes are dead / I want to kill all the memories that live in your head.”
From a purely subjective viewpoint, entry points include 'Love Is Weird', a light pop-laced tune rife with energetic dream-pop savors. At once crystalline and husky, Julia’s voice offers tantalizing timbres of recollection as she reflects on the curiosity of love’s milieu.
A personal favourite, 'Pessimist' rolls out on a just-right driving rhythm, flowing horizontally as the throbbing bassline gives the tune fat, percolating energy. Velvety and bewitchingly seductive, Julia’s voice imbues the lyrics with wisps of polished coloration – like brushed platinum.
Fusing treacly dream-pop hues with dark alt-pop touches, 'Orange Magic' ripples on gleaming colors, as if lost in a reverie or dreaming inversions of existence. Whereas 'Lie Like This' blends tints of EDM muscle with shimmering pop blushes.
'Undertone' travels on delicious polyrhythmic syncopated percussion, while sparkling accents and swirling, multicolored tapestries intertwine and merge into scintillating washes. There’s a vulnerable intensity to Julia’s vocals, giving the lyrics penetrating passion.
Poignant and revealing, 'That's The Kind Of Woman' features sweeping, melancholic strings, along with a gorgeous acoustic guitar. Fleet and touching, Julia’s flow mirrors a heartbreaking stream-of- consciousness description of “the kind of woman I’d leave me for.”
At times soft, at other times thick with sinew, 'Not In Chronological Order' allows Julia Michaels to parade her immense talent as a songwriter, as well as her charismatic, oh-so-expressive voice.
Words: Randy Radic
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