The Critics Corner | Albums

Inner Monologue Part 1 Prolific songwriter continues breakthrough as artist in compelling new EP
Kelsea Ballerini
Alan HopAlbum name: Inner Monologue Part 2 (EP)
Label: Republic
Release Date: June 28, 2019
Rating: -- -- out of 5

Review written by: Amaris Rodriguez
Julia Michaels, singer-songwriter from Iowa, released her newest EP Inner Monologue Part 1 on Jan 24th, giving listeners a peek of what to expect next from her.

Michaels, who gained personal recognition with her hit song “Issues,” which earned her two Grammy Award nominations for “Best New Artist” and “Song of the Year,” had already established herself a go-to songwriter for hit artists such as Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Fifth Harmony and Selena Gomez.

Michaels’ newest EP starts off with a duet with Selena Gomez, and is fittingly titled “Anxiety.” Gomez, who has been vocal about her struggles with depression, including seeking treatment, sings the second verse, adding an interesting texture to Michaels vocals. While the vocals were a nice surprise, Michaels’ tone is more suited for the song. There is something about her tone, which slightly runs the words into each other, that fits the topic of the song perfectly. Gomez’s vocals where unnecessary and I would have enjoyed Michaels as the only singer on the track. “Anxiety,” which was written by Michaels, is a very relatable track for anyone who struggles with anxiety on any level of the spectrum. Lyrics such as “They don't understand why I can't sleep through the night, I've been told that I could take something to fix it, Damn, I wish it, I wish it was that simple,” showcase the feeling of emptiness and loneliness that is experienced when battling anxiety and depression.

Michaels, who wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on her EP, follows up with “Into You,” one of the love tracks on the EP. With a catchy bass and beat, the song tells the story of trying to avoid someone even though you want to see them. Relatable and catchy, adding a nice variety when paired with the rest of the tracks. “Deep” also carries the love song vibe, talking about how someone can hit you really deep and bring back all of the parts of you that you thought were broken. What works with Michael’s ability to sing about love without it being a cliché pop song is her honest lyrics. While her songs are pop love songs, the way she writes gives off a more indie sound that gives it an extra edge, placing it in a category on its own. “Apple” tries to do the same, and while the beat is catchy, it is the weakest of the songs on the EP.

The third track is one of the best written tracks. “Happy” stole the EP. The song mentions different scenarios where Michaels comes across bitter when she just wants to be “Happy.” The juxtaposition between the scenarios and how Michaels wants to feel is what makes this song work. Everyone can relate to the feeling of longing to be happy and how horrible we feel when we aren’t. Michaels plays on the idea of being a songwriter and how the theme of relationships and being in love often plays a big part of her career, “And sometimes I think I kill relationships for art, I start up all this shit to watch 'em fall apart, I pay my bills with it, I watch 'em fall apart, Then pay the price for it, I watch 'em fall apart, but...” She’s peels back the curtains and lets listeners into a very honest and vulnerable place, topics that perfectly reflect the EP’s title track.

The last track of the EP is another duet, and this time it works. Niall Horan, former member of One Direction, sings with Michaels on “What A Time.” The song reminisces about memories between two people and plays on the idea that it was a great time between them, despite on how the relationship ended. The vocals complemented each other, as Michaels has a bit of rasp in her voice that was nicely smooth over with Horan’s tone. The song has a beautiful melody and is a great duet all around.Julia Michaels’ newest EP Inner Monologue Part 1 continues her breakthrough from solely being seen as a songwriter into a full fledge artist. What sets Michaels apart is the rawness in her lyrics. There is a difference in the style used from songs she has penned for other writers, such as  the hit “Sorry” for Justin Bieber and the sound she is carving for herself. Inner Monologue Part 1 leaves me excited for what is to come in a part 2.
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