Lauren O'Brien - In Another Lifetime



A former model and actress from New Jersey, Lauren O’Brien changed her career course to pursue music. Following a couple of well-received single releases, now comes this debut six-song EP that really hits the spot with its melancholy meditations and narratives. Relationships are Lauren’s most frequent territory as a songwriter and a few songs here are about getting out of one, usually with the confidence that the singer’s made the right move. It’s a record that will remind you to make time for reflection but to not get lost in it. There’s so much to live for in the present too. There’s an airiness to it all—both Lauren’s voice and accompanying instrumentation are exquisite sounding and almost always feel like they are floating—but it’s not a record that passes through you like a gust of wind. Recorded partly in Nashville and in Brooklyn, this is a near-perfect blend of sublime modern country-pop with the kind of lyrical themes that will resonate with those listeners on the cusp of romantic relationships. All her past-selves swirl around her, capturing the meditative headspace she is in across the album and the push and pull of wanting to stay present and to transform what’s always at play. Something about her musical language has turned out to be so fresh and perfect for right now, as these songs address neglect, drinking issues, uncertainty and regret, but ultimately aspire to happier days.

The album starts off well. Weak Days is as vulnerable and effortlessly true a song as she has written, as she implores her partner to stick with her through the tough days. This flows effortlessly, with a simple arrangement and a subtle chorus that swims around in your head long after the gentle fade. She shows her more assertive side with the second-chance romance of Another Shot. An unexpected run-in with an old flame in a bar, dipping and diving, her voice, she beseeches the guy to ‘take another shot to see where this goes.’ Powered by a steady beat, she manages to achieve that elusive low-key anthem status that is so irresistible in a live concert setting. 

With Drinking Over Me, she finally realises that her partner’s drinking is not compatible with a healthy relationship, as she cuts the ties and throws him out. Most impressive is the way Lauren has transformed the song’s real-life inspiration into a timeless slice of country songwriting. The closing title track has a roving melody that perfectly matches Lauren’s curiosity as to whether a relationship would’ve worked in different circumstances. The magic of this song—and this album—is that by the end of it, Lauren’s heartbreak gives way to a sense of freedom, or at least empowerment. Best of all, though, is Spoiled, where she dreams about someone she misses, then grinds her teeth all night, knowing she won’t fall back to sleep. It’s a powerful statement from a developing voice; a percolating paean and nostalgic remembrance of what could have been. As it is, this is a solid debut from Lauren O’Brien. There’s enough good stuff here to make me eagerly await what she’ll come up with next.

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June 2024