Nothing ever goes as planned, be it records or relationships, and for Lauren Balthrop her latest long player, Things Will Be Different, is no exception. This isn’t a record about nostalgia as some have suggested, rather it is about pain and hope, getting through to the other side of those things that hold you back.
The initial recording was done in 2020, but Balthrop knew some of the songs needed strings. Living across the street from Matt Combs, one of Nashville’s top string players, he was enlisted and during the pandemic added his dose of magic. More recording was done in April of 2021 and by June mixing began. Yet one thing led to another, and it wasn’t until now the album has finally seen the light of day.
Despite a title that would suggest something quite downbeat ‘Piece of Shit’ is a pretty brilliant song. The opening line, working off a bass riff along with guitar and drums asks, “Why do I feel like a piece of shit all the time?” The voices in your head can always turn on you as she explains, “It’s about feeling like you have to prove your worth to everyone and at the same time knowing that that’s bullshit and it’s all in your head.” There’s always that tug of war between self-rejection and self-acceptance going on, the essential question is who wins the battle.
Tracking the end of a relationship, ‘Thank You’ is a moment where the ending becomes another beginning, even though it doesn’t necessarily seem that way at the time. A duet with Maya deVitry, who had also just gone through a hard breakup, ended feeling more like a therapy session. The ground they traverse isn’t easy, dealing with complicated feelings of longing, anger, pain and hope. They come to a kind of understanding, although getting to end of it all is going to take time, “Someday I’m sorry/ Someday I’ll forgive you/ And someday I’ll thank you/ When I’m ready to.” The song opens gently with piano and guitar, building with strings. Where you come out is never where you started. It illustrates the journey from disappointment that eventually leads to acceptance.
Perhaps the most important part of this album is the way it tracks the pathways from pain to acceptance. Anxiety and heartbreak are a part of what life is about, but there’s more to the journey, one that tracks both lyrically and musically. What you hear isn’t as straight forward as it initially seems. That’s a part of the magic that she is able to immerse within this soundtrack. Things Will Be Different establishes Lauren Balthrop as not simply a voice worth hearing but a voice that needs to be heard.