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The Daily Tar Heel

Review: Lizzy McAlpine's third album “Older” breathes with musical maturity true to its name

lifestyle-review-lizzy-mcalpine-older

On Friday morning, I got up and took a walk while listening to “Older,” Lizzy McAlpine’s newly-released third album. And as I made my way down Franklin Street, the music was the perfect soundtrack for a sunny April morning. 

“Older," true to the name, builds on the theme of time from her two previous albums, “five seconds flat” and “Give Me A Minute,” while utilizing more complex composition and mature lyrics. 

The first song on the album, “The Elevator,” begins with simple piano chords before McAlpine’s voice is heard for the first time. Clocking in at 1 minute and 40 seconds, McAlpine introduces the album with an instrumental heavy song, drawing listeners in with hopeful lyrics.

“I think we can make it, I hope that I’m right,” she sings as the instruments ascend behind her. 

By beginning the album with two songs in the same key, McAlpine creates a seamless transition from the first song to the next, "Come Down Soon," as a means of immersing the listener into her raw lyrics and beautiful instrumentation. 

As a pianist and guitarist herself, McAlpine centers her music around these instruments, often beginning songs with only her voice and piano or guitar. 

“Older” brings her composition to a different level, exposing mature chord progressions stemming from an extensive knowledge of music theory, which she no doubt acquired during her studies at Berklee College of Music before the release of her first album.

“Come Down Soon" features an unusual progression that leads the verses into pre-choruses, pleasing music theorists everywhere, and further demonstrates a growing confidence in her compositional skills. 

McAlpine does not hesitate to elevate her music with percussion and unexpected cadences. “Broken Glass” ends with a percussion-heavy bridge that changes to minor before calming down into a simple guitar. “You Forced Me To” directly follows with eerie guitar strums and octave harmonies that support a song that could easily fit into a Tim Burton movie.

In an album that aims for raw reflection, McAlpine still finds ways to remain true to her signature sound — the soft melodic tones and bare instrumentals that she established as a calling card in her first LP, “Give Me A Minute," are evident in multiple songs.  “Like It Tends To Do” and “Better Than This” will no doubt leave loyal fans satisfied with the album. 

On the thirteenth song of each of her three albums, McAlpine offers an ode to her father, who passed away in March of 2020. In her newest album, “March” fills this position with grace, telling a story of grief and how it can impact you at any point, no matter how much time has passed.

“I didn’t know it’d be this hard,” McAlpine sings. “So far away, and then it hits you.”

After the third listen of this album in full, I have only found more to love about it. 

It is clear that McAlpine has put time and effort into this album, with each song weaving her angelic vocals and exceptional lyricism into a project full of surprise, emotion and maturity.

My advice: take a walk and let Lizzy McAlpine give you a musical breath of fresh air.

@dthlifestyle | lifestyle@dailytarheel.com

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