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renforshort’s (Lauren Isenberg) debut album Dear Amelia feels like an out-of-body experience as she floats in a beacon of hazy cerulean light, away from all that makes her feel connected to her body. She tells us, “I chase the feeling of being in Toronto” and “Nostalgia makes me feel connected to my body in a way,” so Toronto’s fluffy greenery surrounding a deep ravine fades away as her holographic shape is enveloped by Aurora Borealis’ swirling kaleidoscope of colors in the thermosphere.
The New York Times crossword puzzles that make her feel like herself become dizzying symbols in the atmosphere that she pieces together to write several letters addressed to this holographic form, Amelia, who she says is “a personification of this part of my brain that I put so much stress on…I’m speaking to myself.” As soon as she writes each letter, or track, it vaporizes like a meteor in a fiery catharsis. She says, “I selfishly want to help myself through my music,” however she wants fans to help themselves too as she created “Letters to Amelia,” a way for fans to feel the same sense of release.
Lauren, 20 year old singer/songwriter, sits on Zoom in gray sweatpants, beaded bracelets, chunky rings on fingers painted with white chipped nail polish in front of surrealist technicolored clown-like portraits, an image that is equal parts raw and abstract. Sonically and lyrically, her album is a lot like the surrealist imagery hung behind her- the tracks have a dream-like echoing quality as if they are being played in the atmosphere’s vast space, and are filled with personal iconography. The album starts with, “i miss myself,” a track well-suited for her atmospheric trip away from her grounded body, as she writes:
"i miss myself"
I've gone through way too many versions of me
Which one would stay a while?
When did I go to feeling like nobody?
And now I'm tryna feel the ground
So I don't have to let me down
I lost myself to be like you and now I fuckin' miss me, damn
I miss myself
This idea of feeling like nobody, like a simple blue outline of a person, is one that traces many of the album’s songs. In the second track of the album, “made for you,” she expresses a morphable quality that pulls her farther away from her body. She writes, “You tell me what you love, I'm like, ‘Me too’/ Say anything to get to you/ I might seem like a dream come true/ 'Cause I lie like I was made for you.” She expresses a similar sentiment in “not my friend” in which she writes, “Baby, I, I'm not my friend/Just someone stuck in a body/ Shame that I've been hard to find/ But I try to keep my promise.” When asked for her to share anything relative to creating the album that she has yet to share, she says “A lot of people don’t know that I struggled a lot with myself when making this album,” however tracks like these allow music to speak for her.
One of the most special tracks on the album is “let you down” featuring Jake Bugg, whose music connects Lauren to herself. When asked about her personal favorite music, she says, “The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack makes me feel whole,” noting her love for Jake Bugg’s “Simple as This,” a song about mining the whole world for meaning. In his song, he sings, “Traveled to each oceans end/ Saw all 7 wonders/ Trying to make some sense/ Memorized the mantra Confucius said/ But it only let me down/ Tried absolution of the mind and soul/ It only led me where I should not go/ Oh and the answer well/ How could I miss/ Something as simple as this?” This journey to find meaning is one that runs through both artist’s music, and their collaboration is an instance of the stars aligning around Lauren. When asked about the collaboration she says, “I manifested the Jake Bugg collaboration song, I said ‘I’m not putting it out if Jake Bugg isn’t on it.’ When I heard he was on the song I sobbed.” Interestingly enough, while she mostly writes letters to a part of herself that she is losing, she is collaborating with someone who must feel like home in a sense.
"let you down"
So I'll tell you lies, say I love you tonight
So at least one of us gets some sleep
I'll just pretend that this isn't the end
And I know I'm just dragging my feet
Least if someone gets hurt then it's me
Dear Amelia closes with “Amelia,” a track about suicide and the loss of Amelia, the personification of a piece of her. Throughout the track, the vocoder amplifies and drowns her voice in the atmosphere’s whirling color palette of rich saturations against intense darkness. There is no real “happy ending” to the album, in other words there’s not really a consolation. It is raw, and doesn’t force conclusions- the album is true to what it is, like 12 hand-written letters meant to disintegrate as soon as they reach the atmosphere for the purpose of release rather than revelation.
Amelia, it's been not long since you've been gone
And I can't help but wonder what went wrong?
Did you skip your medication 'cause you thought it was too strong?
Oh, Amelia you always wished you had a song
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