ALBUM REVIEW: Julia Michaels – Not In Chronological Order

Julia Michaels is the queen of candid introspection. With a career full of chart-topping songwriting credits, she has always helped other artists find the words they needed to say to relieve the circling thoughts that sometimes plague us all. Stepping into the spotlight in 2017 with her breakthrough single ‘Issues’, she started unravelling her own story with the release of her vulnerable EP’s ‘Nervous System’, ‘Inner Monologue Part 1’ and ‘Inner Monologue Part 2’. With those EP’s introducing her to a rapidly growing fanbase, she gave her “gems” her whole heart, and they held it tightly.

With the release of her highly anticipated debut album ‘Not In Chronological Order’, she’s focused on the present moment and created a body of work that is a representation of where she is at right now in her life romantically, mentally and physically. The 10 track collection is purposefully set not in chronological order and gives you a whiplash of feelings from the moment she opens with the angsty, relatable and satirical anthem ‘All Your Exes’ right through to the candid reflection of closing track ‘That’s The Kind Of Woman’. It’s a complete overview of the many different feelings that life gives, with a real sense of hope embedded deep into songwriting. 

With the majority of the album inspired by new love, the songs have a natural positive aura around them as it soundtracks the moments of Michaels learning to open up again. ‘History’ is a beautiful and raw embodiment of this as she details getting to know someone through all the intriguing questions we ask to get to know their history while hoping that we’d also be history in the making. With it’s tender acoustic guitar production, you’re immediately transported to laying in a bed in the dark with the person that makes your heart flutter with these sort of questions nervously rolling off your tongue. “Have you ever broken a bone? What was your teacher’s name in third grade? Do you cry when movies hit home? Do you hate your family on holidays? Have you ever had an existential crisis?” she inquisitively sings. 

Continuing the emotional deliveries, ‘Little Did I Know’ hears her taking to the piano for a song about finding “the one” and not being able to plan for it to happen. “But little did I know, you would be the one I confide in, learn how to try with. Little did I know, it was you before I ever decided” she sings about the unexpected moment she met her boyfriend. This song stands out with its raw emotion highlighted through her vocal delivery, with the song then building its production with the addition of strings and a choir. It’s very cinematic, and just genuinely stunning. 

Showing a contrast in perspective, ‘Wrapped Around’ gives one of the albums most surprising sonical moments alongside ‘All Your Exes’. With a disco pop production that immediately draws comparisons to Dua Lipa’s recent material, she doesn’t hold back by giving one of the sassiest lyrics deliveries on this record which serves as a massive fuck you to all the people she thought she ever loved. “Up all night without you, but I’m not up by myself” may just be one of my favourite Julia Michaels lyrics now purely because I’m petty, and I’d want to sing this directly to my ex. On the flip side though ‘Undertone’ is a song for that ex who will always float into your undertones when you start dating someone new. For some reason you can’t shake a particular memory with them even though you real want to and all it does is end up sabotaging anything new you may have. “But every time I find somebody new, I hope that the memory of you will leave me alone”, and wow that’s a massive mood. 

‘Not In Chronological Order’ is an honest and relatable collection of tracks full of heart that’ll have you reminiscing about your past and pondering about your future in a very reflective manner. There’s genuinely something for everyone, with so many honest truths hidden in the lyrics that you’ll find yourself embracing solace in. It’s an impressively strong body of work, but deep down we all knew Julia Michael’s debut album was going to be a special affair, didn’t we?