Chloe Gilligan's "Erase August"
When people outside of Tennessee hear “Nashville,” they think of a thriving metropolis, home to the heart of country music. And while this may be true, Nashville is also far more than that, its roots digging deeper into small town USA. The city isn’t just about music row, just like New York City isn’t just about Times Square. I went to visit Nashville this summer, anxiously awaiting to emerge myself into the world that country artists sing about. But in order to be in that world, you had to know where to find the door, and I found it at the Listening Room Cafe one night during my stay. The Listening Room Cafe is owned by the same people who own the Bluebird Cafe where international superstar Taylor Swift was discovered. The Listening Room is one of the many hidden gems in Nashville that you wouldn’t stumble across on trip advisor, in fact, my ticket was bought just hours before the show. Every Monday, a group of five female singer/songwriters called the “Song Suffragettes” take the stage and take turns performing their own songs. This is where I discovered Chloe Gilligan, the artist who’s music I can’t take off shuffle.
I left the room feeling utterly inspired and buzzing with the feeling that encapsulates Nashville. The artists hung out in the lobby thanking those who came out to see the show. I had the opportunity to talk to Chloe, a Belmont University alumni from Georgia who’s been living out the Nashville dream for years. Chloe was super easy to talk to, being that you could go up to her or any of the Suffragettes and start a conversation. She was enthusiastic with a warm demeanor; you could tell Chloe enjoyed being there. We talked about the city itself and the universities I was planning on visiting while in town (Chloe has since convinced me to apply to Belmont, my current first choice school).
Chloe’s EP “Erase August,” is like finishing the last page of the book you spent the whole summer writing. It’s a reflection of what once was, the part in the movie when the main character has a million flashbacks hit them all at once. Every song on the EP is far from generic, as Chloe sings about anxiety is its realest form in “Nervous’ and “Sink.” “Nervous” is exactly like it sounds, describing the person who makes you nervous, but you still continue on in spite of what you may be feeling. “Sink” is a panic attack, making you feel like you’re actually drowning, praying someone saves you from yourself and pulls you out the water. This theme in Chloe’s music resonated with me, as I’ve struggled with anxiety my entire life. Sometimes it feels impossible to overcome, and it truly does feel like you’re being suffocated by your own thoughts. It’s always comforting to know that someone else has been where you are, or is going through something similar to what you’re going through. Speaking of sinking in water, Chloe’s music has been an umbrella in a thunderstorm for me and most certainly for others as well. Other deeply personalized songs include “Blow Your Cover,” a song she wrote in the middle of a club calling out a former love interest for trying to be with her and another girl at the same time. Chloe takes back the narrative, refusing to let a guy who’s lying to himself, fool her. All throughout the EP Chloe makes her listeners feel like they lived through what she sings about with her. With specific places named and such detail that you couldn’t find on any mainstream song. The lyric from her title track “And if I could erase August, this whole thing would have never started,” ends the EP perfectly. The last page of the book being written, and wanting to throw all of it away. The memories, the feelings, all of it still there. All of it put together into one beautiful EP that couldn’t possibly be erased.
Within just a few days of the release of Taylor Swift’s seventh studio album titled “Lover,” it was well on its way to becoming certified platinum. It sold a million copies without the album having to be released. Taylor Swift is truly a household name, achieving a certain level of complexity like most households. Her name can be dragged through the mud, as it was prior to “reputation,” but will still sell out stadiums all across the world in just a matter of minutes. People love to hate Swift, but people love to love her. And why her previous album revolved around a phoenix rising from the ashes type theme (or, more fittingly, a snake), her latest album captures the idea of love. The idea, the feeling that hardly anyone is capable of describing. But, in 18 tracks, her longest album yet, the definition of love is made clear.
Tabloids love to report the trials and tribulations of Swift’s love life. Not every relationship is meant to be a successful one, and instead of going home and trying to move on, Swift can’t. It becomes the next news headline in the morning papers as every magazine tries to dissect what went wrong with information they can’t even deem as factual. We only truly know what Swift is like though what she puts in her music. The public knew what she was like as a gangly teen with cork screw blonde hair through her debut album and “Fearless.” And as time passed, we grew up with Swift, realizing that emotions aren’t black and white and out of fairytales in “Speak Now” and “Red.” We all discovered that change was a good thing in “1989” and we survived the darkest times (as Swift would later describe as an apocalypse) of “reputation.” Taylor has always sang about love, and what it means to her, as she has spent her whole life trying to put it into words. “Lover” can be described as the clam after the storm. That moment when all the dust settles, and the sun rises once again. It’s in these moments when we finally see clearly, we see the ones who stayed, and we finally finish mourning the ones who didn’t. Though these moments can be portrayed with pastel pink colors and baby blue skies, love is still complex. There is romance in everything if you know where to look, and where there is romance, there is pain. Swift describes the anxiety of being in a relationship and staying with the person in spite of it. Loving someone so much that it hurts, and thinking that it might kill you if they leave. The anxiety of wondering if you even deserve a love like this, to being at peace with your lover on a Sunday night. Swift even explores the other aspects of love outside a relationship through being present in London, falling in love with the city like she did with Nashville so long ago. “Lover” also contains the agonizing pain of finding out a loved one is sick. Reiterating that love is pain, and in order to love, as intensely and fiercely as people do, you must be willing to hurt and get hurt. I’ve been following Swift since I was a little girl, and I know that you don’t need to be in love to hear what Taylor is saying. “Lover” is available now wherever you buy music.