Loren Gray – Guilty


Release Date: April 21st 2023

Reviewed by: Joshua Andre

Loren Gray– Guilty (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Guilty
  2. Predictable
  3. Never Be Perfect
  4. Told You So
  5. Let Down
  6. Find Out
  7. Enough For You
  8. Takes 2 (feat. Neto Pena)
  9. Until Hell Freezes Over
  10. Misery Loves Company

I’ve been reviewing for more than 10 years. It’s been a joy to write about albums that have resonated with me and to voice my opinions about them. But as I am approaching my mid-thirties (boy, that’s a reality check right there!), the time has come to scale back a bit. To write about the albums that have really resonated with me and not just ‘every album under the sun’. Probably from next year onwards, I’ll stop listening to any new artist (Christian and mainstream!) unless there’s a significant buzz about them that I absolutely cannot ignore. But as this is my last few months of probably exploring all the artists that I can and that I can probably handle in terms of being able to resonate with (simply because there’s way too much music artists out there to care about each and every single one of them!); here goes me reviewing yet another artist whom I wouldn’t normally. Loren Gray is similar in style to Tate McRae, Olivia Rodrigo, and Lauren Spencer Smith; and though her music is most likely pitched at a generation younger than myself, her debut album Guilty still packs a punch and still speaks about relatable and relevant issues for people of all ages. Music-wise, Loren may not be in your wheelhouse, but I reckon give her a chance, and see what gen z will ultimately be listening to and talking about.

I feel like the story [behind Guilty] was me coming into my own and using music as this therapeutic tool to get my thoughts out. I’m a person who has a hard time expressing my emotions and my communication skills are typically very poor. I have a tendency to push people away. [I also confronted] this side of me that doesn’t always want to get out of bed in the morning and doesn’t want to be Loren Gray every day.

I started being very self-critical. I’ve always been that way, but it was heightened during that time [of the pandemic]. And also learning that I don’t need anyone to be whole. I feel like I was always looking for a boyfriend or someone to cling to, and I had a hard time standing on my own two feet. I feel like I’ve sort of come into my own in the sense that I don’t feel like I need anyone to be Loren anymore. Loren can stand on her own. Loren can fend for herself. Loren has gotten herself this far.

Loren in 2018 releasing ‘My Story’ cried the night that song came out, I hated it. And looking back, it’s cute. I was young, I was 16, I was new. Even though there wasn’t really a place for me at the time to have an opinion because those opinions weren’t heard, I wish I would have known that I was deserving enough and also smart enough.

I’ve been on social media for how long now? Seven years going on eight years. And people have always gotten to see my life play out very publicly. But so often I feel like the truth and the feelings that you feel when all of these things are happening sort of fly under the radar. I want people to be able to connect to me on that level.

Loren Gray is a TikTok star and quite possibly teenagers and people in their 20’s may resonate with her content- her videos and ultimately her music. But because I have jumped into her music as an outsider (I just knew her from a Cimorelli cover of “My Story”!), my perspective of her vulnerable and emotional music may not be the perspective of gen z, and that’s ok. “Guilty” (the title track) delves deep into mental health and feeling worthless and like a fraud, as Loren passionately reiterates that she feels guilty of being sad and not having it together all the time; while the alternative/rock melody “Predictable” has Loren throwing her ex under the bus and berating him for treating her horribly throughout their relationship. “Never Be Perfect” is a pop/rock melody that warns a potential boyfriend that Loren has all of these weaknesses and imperfections and that she’s not girlfriend material; while the empowering, pulsating, and energetic anthem “Told You So” speaks about the freedom to be your own self and the moment you accept your individuality and the fact that your voice matters.

As far as debut albums go, Loren dives deep into and touches upon a lot, and this continues throughout the rest of the tracks. “Let Down”, similar in theme to “Never Be Perfect”, is a frank admission that Loren is going to let someone down in a potential relationship, and that the person who loves her is going to have to deal with that possibility of being hurt. On the flip side, “Find Out” is a confident, sassy, and self-assured melody about being in control and realising that you hold all of the cards in a potential relationship, for better or for worse. Loren also sings about feeling wanted, loved and accepted in a relationship (“Enough For You”), while she also sings about the burning desire and the physicality of a relationship (“Takes 2”) and the yearning she has to be in love with a specific person for a long time (“Until Hell Freezes Over”). Guilty then ends with “Misery Loves Company”, a melancholy and reflective song about the moment a relationship ends, with Loren yearning for the guy to come back to her but also trying to accept that the relationship has run its course.

I know for a fact that Loren Gray’s Guilty isn’t created for my benefit. It’s for the people who are Loren’s age (early 20’s) and people who can identify with her struggles of a young girl dating in
America. Save for the title track which is about mental health; probably all of the songs are about relationships- and I’m not in one, so I shouldn’t like this project. Yet there is something about Loren that is instantly likeable, and maybe it’s the openness and honesty. Loren is encouraging and inspiring, as she reminds us that she is real, authentic, and honest, and as she reminds us that she’s a flawed individual that can sometimes intentionally or unintentionally hurt people for whatever reason. Subjectively, Guilty may not be for us. But objectively, can you see the appeal for an album like this or will you just walk on by? And so, I encourage you to check out Loren’s music. You may not listen to it in a few years as your enjoyability of it may have waned. But as of right at this current moment, Guilty needs to be listened to, and Loren reminds us of the power of honesty and vulnerability. What is next for Loren? More Tiktok or pivoting to music? Here’s hoping the next album is just and profound as the first and maybe even more so.

3 songs to listen to: Guilty, Told You So, Let Down

Score: 4/5

RIYL: Tate McRae, Olivia Rodrigo, Lauren Spencer Smith, Fifth Harmony, Little Mix, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato

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