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Subject to Change
Release date: 11.12.21
Press Releases View All
Katelyn Tarver Debuts “Hurt Like That” w/ Under the RadarRead More
Katelyn Tarver Shares Striking New Single “Nicer”Read More
Katelyn Tarver Shares New Single “All Our Friends Are Splitting Up”Read More
On her new album Subject to Change, Katelyn Tarver emerges as the rare kind of artist capable of capturing the most painful truths in impossibly lovely pop songs. With a bracing specificity that strikes every raw nerve, the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter documents a turbulent period in her recent past, shedding light on all the grief and confusion and lost sense of self. Infinitely brightened by her radiant voice, the result is the musical equivalent of a brutally honest conversation with a close friend—one that leaves you undeniably rattled but with a renewed clarity and deeper understanding of your own chaotic heart.
“I think a lot of us go through that phase in life where you ask yourself, ‘Is this it?’ You start out with so much to look forward to, but at some point you might question where everything’s going and whether you’re really happy,” says Tarver, a small-town Georgia native who’s now 31. “It can be so isolating and so hard to talk about, especially with social media and all the pressure to always have your shit together. This album is my way of trying to articulate what it’s like to go through that, with the hope that it’ll help other people feel seen and less scared.”
The follow-up to her acclaimed EP Kool Aid (a 2018 release made with hitmakers like Wrabel), Subject to Change encompasses an understated yet gorgeously detailed sound that lets her soul-baring lyrics take center stage. In its graceful convergence of pop and folk and indie-rock, the album also spotlights the spellbinding vocal work she’s previously brought to singles like “Weekend Millionaires” (a track made with Childish Gambino producer Ludwig Göransson) and “You Don't Know” (a heart-melting ballad whose viral live video has now amassed over 55 million views).
The first song Tarver penned for Subject to Change, the delicately textured “Downhill From Here” set the tone for the album’s unchecked candor, an element perfectly encapsulated in the track’s opening lines: “I’m done taking advice from anybody under 50.” “That’s something I said out loud to my friends when we were all sitting on the beach—it came from feeling frustrated with myself for always looking outward for someone to tell me I’m on the right path,” Tarver recalls. “I ended up pouring so much heavy emotion into that song, without trying to edit myself or water it down. It felt like I’d tapped into a more authentic part of myself than I ever had before.”
All throughout Subject to Change, Tarver upholds that refusal to compromise her complexity or sugar-coat her narrative. On “Shit Happens,” with its lilting string work and luminous piano melodies, she takes a wildly refreshing stance against toxic positivity. “It’s always bothered me when things go wrong and people try to comfort you by telling you something like, ‘Everything happens for a reason,’” Tarver says. “The truth is that a lot of times in life, bad things happen and there’s really no way to make sense of it, and it might not even be helpful to try.” One of the album’s more lighthearted tracks, “Nicer” unfolds in shimmering grooves and lush guitar tones as Tarver reflects on her tendency to people-please. “As a woman raised in the South, I’ve always tried to be polite and not rock the boat, which often means sacrificing what you really want to say or do,” she notes. “‘Nicer’ is about deciding that it’s okay to show the sides of myself that are maybe not so nice.” And on “Year From Now,” Tarver delivers a folk-infused meditation on the healing power of time. “When you’re in a bad place, you can try to bring joy into your life by hanging with friends or practicing self-care, but in the end time is the only thing that can really give you relief,” she says. “That song’s about the feeling of wanting time to pass, so that the pain won’t feel as fresh.”
A particularly gut-punching moment on Subject to Change, “All Our Friends Are Splitting Up” examines the sometimes-daunting challenge of preserving a long-term relationship. Centered on a beautifully devastating vocal performance from Tarver, the track proves her gift for balancing untamed emotion with exacting self-awareness and even a bit of offhand humor (“I know we process things/A little differently/But I’m jumping off the bridge/While you watch TV”). “No one gets into a relationship thinking it will end, especially not a marriage,” says Tarver, who got married in her early 20s. “You never think you’ll be the couple that doesn’t make it, until your relationship gets tested and you wonder, ‘Is this how it happens?’ This song is me voicing that fear and saying that even though I don’t know where this rough patch will lead, I’m committed to sticking it out.”
As Tarver reveals, Subject to Change’s bold confession has much to do with a profound shift in her songwriting process. “In the past, I’d go into the studio and depend way more heavily on my co-writers and producers to help me shape my ideas into songs,” says Tarver, who created the album with producers Davis Naish, Justin Gammella, and David Arkwright. “But this time, the lyrics came straight from my everyday life—whatever I was saying or ranting about to my friends or family became the songs I wrote. I was able to access a different side of my artist brain by not second-guessing myself, and that helped me to express things exactly the way I wanted to.”
Thanks to that unfettered self-expression, Subject to Change ultimately instills listeners with a newfound willingness to embrace their own messiness and mutability. “As I was writing and exploring all the emotions that went into this album, I finally got to the point of admitting that there’s so much I don’t have figured out—which is really scary, but also incredibly freeing,” says Tarver. “The reality is that none of us knows what we’re doing; we’re all just trying our best. It’s been a big deal to let myself be open to being in progress like that, and I hope these songs can be a friend to anyone facing uncertainty or change. That’s what they’ve been for me.”