Photo Credit: Clare Gillen
Inner Monologue Part 1 by Julia Michaels is “Relationship 101” and the star ghostwriter-turned-singer is absolutely masterful at explaining her self-proclaimed complicated ways throughout this mini LP. Many know Michaels from her 2017 top 10 breakout hit single “Issues”, however the once shy Iowa native has been a behind the scenes mastermind for nearly a decade now. Penning huge radio friendly hits for the likes of Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Britney Spears to name a few.
The six-track EP is her fourth official release following 2017’s Nervous System, which nabbed her two Grammy nods for Best New Artist and Song of The Year respectively. Following along the same lines that gained her initial success, you can instantly tell upon first listen that Michaels is much more interested in personal retrospect than commercial appeal of any sort. Take for example, the lead single “Anxiety” which is by far the jewel of the EP, featuring close friend and pop star beauty Selena Gomez. Touching on her own personal struggles, Michaels heartfelt vocals are both resonating and relatable, as she and the Disney alum trade verses harmonizing with an infectious acoustic set of string guitars behind them.
Gomez even went on record to say the track was “special and encouraging” to her as she too has battled with her own share of very public mental health issues this past year. The multi-talented songstress got candid about the powerful single by stating in a recent interview with V Magazine, “I guess it’s my way of trying to take my power back from anxiety. I’m like, yeah it f*cking sucks I have it, but it’s fine. I’m happy that I have the outlet to talk about it and help people not feel so alone in the way that they feel.”
The following track “Into You” is a sultry breakup song that strikes a similar tone as 2017’s smash hit “Issues”, she touches on a love she misses, but doesn’t personally have room for at the moment. On the more solemn “Happy”, you can feel her pain, as she croons about longing for something real. “Sometimes I feel like I kill relationships for art // I start up all this sh*t 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 // I just wanna be f*cking happy.”
“Deep” is by all accounts her best vocally on the album. Under heavy vibratos you can picture Michaels in a dim lit room singing to the stars above, in front of her childhood mirror with a pink hairbrush as the microphone, as if no one’s watching. Elsewhere, the guilt loving “Apple” is the most sensually charged track on the EP providing a perfect pop twist with spicy lines like, “Lift up my dress to see where you been // That’s what I want and that’s where I am // Bite off an apple right from your fridge // Come here and taste it right off my lips.” The brief collective effort ends on a good note with the final track “What A Time”. Featuring heartthrob Niall Horan, formally of One Direction, who strikes a beautiful artistic balance to Michaels on the ballad. Michaels and Horan go back and forth reflecting on the good times of a former relationship.
All in all, Inner Monologue Part 1 is a solid effort. Although it is apparent that the tattooed blond is much more of a natural songwriter at heart, as her sound rarely switches gears vocally, pitch wise or otherwise, the concept works great for her delivery. The mini LP falls perfectly in line with her brilliant knack of mixing vulnerability and relatable realities of love and life in a chic but defiant way. Bravely and unafraid, Inner Monologue Part 1 is penned more like an open love letter rather than a collection of oversaturated label appeal that we are used to seeing from new pop artists. No, this is more personal and more intentional than self-promoting. This is a confessional of sorts on the highest of intimate levels. Daringly addressing issues in a subtle but fearless way that many of us need to acknowledge but simply don’t want to face. So, here’s to the bold and courageous! Because Julia Michaels never made it look so good.