Track 1: Verified

Verified was born in a place where I was trying to make my way out of the self-destructive storm of denial. The pain of grief is so heavy that we so easily can send our minds to a place of survival. You know how badly it’s going to hurt, so you unintentionally run in the other direction. There was an underlying fear of not knowing how to “grieve right” or a fear of what road my pain would take me down. 

Then there comes a time when you learn a lesson that you think should be obvious, but one that we keep fighting against: You cannot manipulate your emotions without serious repercussions. For me, the repercussions were anxiety followed by chronic depression. 

So here we have “Verified”, my moment of escape, of letting go and allowing myself to miss my little brother and to feel every part of it. And instead of pushing it back, I chose to bring it with me in a way that could teach me and bring me life.

The funny thing is when people talk about these kinds of steps in grief, like denial; they make it sound like it’s a level in a game, and once you beat it, it’s over. That’s so far from the truth. It’s not that clean. I take myself through this process over and over again. It feels silly, to put it lightly...really, it feels pitiful. But it gets a little easier every time I let myself feel it when I catch myself pushing it away.

The song had to be upbeat and slightly danceable, while the lyrics if read alone could sound really hopeless and desperate; because I wanted to capture that feeling of freedom that comes when you pull yourself out of denial. Even if it’s heartbreaking freedom.

Track 2: Hide Me

Hide Me was written a few years after my uncle died. I wrote this song looking back at the first death that I had experienced, and its effect on my life and my family’s life. 
I remember reaching this place of having constant flashbacks and dreams of the night he died with focused details on specific moments. I was just a scrawny, blonde, freckle-faced 12 year old girl, and yet I knew right there that nothing would ever be the same. I sat on the floor in a corner watching my family fall apart, covering my eyes, hiding, breathing with focus, and walking around houses that felt like despair with a fog settling in on my mind, feeling scared and clueless.

This song is the aftermath of tragedy, its effect on a family in the midst of survival and shock. This is where I introduce a character Annie to the story who essentially is an embodiment of anxiety, which I will get into with more detail when I reach that song. This moment of my life was the start of a fight for my mental health and for trying to stay connected to my family. It was also when I started writing songs and became a weird little artist- it was the only way I could process everything. 
My uncle’s life and death changed everyone around him. While recording this album, I would make tea in the studio kitchen and talk about him with the people on the record who knew him. I played his Fender Mustang on the entire record, but there was nothing I wanted more than to hand it back to him. I walked through feelings of missing him and feelings of missing the moments I never had with him, yet also holding a feeling of gratitude for all that I have learned from walking through pain and for the impact he left on the people working with me on the album.

Track 3: Don't Come Back


This song wears many different masks for me. One of which was suppressed memories; a lot of restless, anxious night with memories hounding me, begging to be seen and validated. So I suppose this song in a way is the emotional fit you throw when you realize there is work to be done, but you feel too exhausted to take the step. 

I wrote the lyric, “you ripped my heart out, it’s too heavy to get back now” and felt a weight lift off my shoulders. Whether I was saying it to someone or to something, I felt like I could finally allow myself to get angry at the pain of it all. It felt so dramatic, broken and pitiful, but still sharp and powerful to say. 

“Don’t Come Back” scared me the most, but also brought me just as much freedom.

Track 4: Annie


I unintentionally made anxiety a character through this song. Anxiety is not a personality trait, and I was tired of feeling like the symptoms of anxiety were parts of me. People would think that it was in my personality to be quiet, stand offish, seclude and mopey; but I would only leave the party early because I had burning pains in my chest and couldn't breathe properly- just like anyone would do if they were sick. 

But anxiety is a recluse. It can be easily seen as a part of you because it is a mental illness so it effects your behavior. I didn't want to become anxiety. I didn't want it stealing parts of me: my love and drive to be a good friend, to be connected to the people around me, to be enthusiastic and supportive. I felt drained of myself and hidden away.  

When people would see those parts of me show up and say things like, "Wow, your really growing and coming out of your shell;” and I always wanted to say to them, “This is who I've always been. I've just been sick. Nobody feels like themselves when they are sick." But it always felt like I was being put in a place of having to be super vulnerable on the spot and so I stayed quiet about it.

Thus the reason for creating the character Annie. It was a chance to see it all from the outside and evaluate what it was. To look something in the face, be honest, break down, get angry, sad or whatever I needed to do. And to stop myself from spiraling through self hatred. Knowing that I am not anxiety saved me from falling into a constant pattern of self deprecation.

Track 5: New York Letter

Oh man… this one… dealing with passive aggression, a shortage of face to face communication, stuck behind phones, twisted words. This song was written fast, in a flurry of frustration, when I was ready to put my hands up and step back from something that was beyond my patience or control. It was just a couple months after my little brother passed away, and I was still in the shock place of grief- at the end of my mental capacity, with no threshold for bullshit. So here we have “New York Letter”, a spicy ‘lil end to unnecessary toxicity in the middle of a pre-existing storm.

Track 6: Think of Me


The moment between the very last second chance and letting go....”Think Of Me” is the last breath, request, plea, offering of grace that can barely escape your lips through total exhaustion and hopelessness. After white-knuckling it through years of repetitive destruction, everything in you is begging for freedom, but you’ve been stuck inside chaos for so long that letting go and walking away from it would be terrifyingly unfamiliar.

Track 8: What You Wanted

For a while, I was hesitant to release this one. It's this weird, sassy song that was one of the first I had written for the record. I almost ditched it so many times because as the years had passed, I had a hard time relating to it anymore. I'm very grateful that I had people around me telling me how dumb that would be. This song has become incredibly sentimental and nostalgic to me. It feels like an encapsulation of unsettled, irrational, impulsive, young emotions. I wrote it in a flurry of frustration and confusion, in torn up tights and pointe shoes sitting on my bedroom floor.

Track 9: Talk in Circles


This song is about the desperation to be with someone who’s gone. It expresses the feelings of hopelessness and loss of control that grief brings and mindlessly pining after moments you will never get to have with them, feeling the burn of painful distance. I didn’t fully realize what this song was about for a while, although I felt it very deeply every time I played it. It was when the album was half way finished, and I had a conversation with someone about grief covering your entire life, past, present and future, when I came to realize its meaning. You go through years and years without someone. You grow and change. Your life shifts and turns. You look back at your time with them and realize how completely different life is now. There’s nothing more you want than to not have to grow anymore without them and to catch them up on everything you’ve missed out on- to talk in circles.

Track 10: Matthias

I woke up in the middle of the night from a bad dream and dragged myself out of bed. Well, it wasn’t even a bad dream; it was a dream of him all grown up. I wanted to stay in it. It was the most indulgent made up memory. I could’ve stayed and gotten lost in it forever. It wasn’t the dream that hurt so bad; it was waking up from it over and over again. 

With shadows under my eyes, greasy hair tied on top of my head, and a cup of tea, I sat and cried over the keys of my piano for ten minutes at 4am. I looked up and saw a scrap of paper with the scribbled words, “Matthias, it’s been a while. Honestly, I’m sick of this reckless precision.” In this half awake, delirious dance with the feeling of “why” the song came to life and was sitting there right in front of me. 

I had moments when I questioned naming the song, “Matthias.” I didn’t want it to seem like this song was supposed to be about him fully or even about grief fully. It is just about that moment of “why." There are no words, no rationality, no other feelings. Just, “why” 

So there’s nothing else to say but their name when there are no other words to turn to- it’s a cry of desperation. So I said his name a few more times before I hit the last note.