Nashville singer-songwriter Gatlin has shared her sophomore EP To Remind Me of Home.
“‘To Remind Me of Home’ is a short story of my life the past year and a half,” Gatlin said, adding: “It covers relationships and mental health – the two things most people in their early twenties are trying to navigate and figure out. It’s honest and raw and is a reflection of who I am as a person. The production, the artwork, the video visuals, etc. are all a part of the story that reminds me of home.”
This is pop and its most polished, most modern, and most potent. It aims its sights directly at the top of the mountain where Lorde and Billie Eilish and maybe even Taylor Swift live, to the point that using terms like “indie” or “alt” just feels wrong. I got major Chvrches vibes from ‘What If I Love You’, which is cool because I love Chvrches. I have no idea whether it was Gatlin’s intention to sound explicitly like contemporary pop, but she does a pretty damn good job of it, even when it sometimes overreaches.
‘Whenever He Asks’, for example, bounces with so much reverb that you could practically swim in it. With drum production that lands somewhere between disco thump and straight-up throwing a kit down the stairs, the results sometimes work in dissonant contrast to the words Gatlin is attempting to sing. It’s dense with handclaps and hi-hat clicks that have the ability to distract and detract as much as they add.
For me, the real interest in the song was in its lyrics. Gatlin, detailing a toxic relationship, reveals a strong unique voice in the way she breaks down the complicated feelings of love. It’s not quite storytelling songwriting, but it’s evocative and specific like good story songs are. “I would meet him halfway if there wasn’t something missing.”
The following song, ‘Sugarcoated’, is another driving pop tune. This is going to either sound hilarious or embarrassing, but I swore that ‘Sugarcoated’ weirdly evoked ‘E.T.’ by, at least in the beginning. The song’s first verse and chorus have that the same sci-fi buzz and lyrical rhythm. Then the second verse had an acoustic guitar and a near-constant layer of synthesizer buzz that also hangs over the entirety of the EP. Sometimes, these instrumental mixtures are interesting, but other times they crowd and overstuff the arrangement.
That’s why I loved ‘Hospital’: sparsely arranged and specifically detailed, the track allows Gatlin’s lyrics to carry the song through a story of pain and mistakes, but not shame. Mistakes are part of life and finding the value in being fucked up by channelling it through songs. ‘Hospital’ ends with EP in a thematic and musical high.
Overall, To Remind Me of Home feels slightly disjointed as a whole, with each song sounding uniquely separated from the one before it, leaving the flow of the record as a non-concern. However, each song shines on its own, and Gatlin makes a strong case for herself as an artist worthy of some solid hype. Thanks to a tight lyrical focus, To Remind Me of Home stands on its own and provides a solid direction for Gatlin’s future.
Stream the EP below.