Recommended Tracks: “California”, “I Can Love”, “Send Hope”
Artists You May Like: Gwen Stefani, Dove Cameron, Snail Mail
Have you ever loved someone so much, you sought higher powers to make it work? Hated someone so much that you wanted them to leave the state? Wondered about your purpose while reading Carl Sagan? If you have or can relate to these experiences in some way, indie rocker Megan Slankard is here to redefine these feelings with her latest album, California & Other Stories. On its ten tracks, she recounts these moments, along with many others, to create a gripping album full of adventure and meaning, giving fans a chance to catch up to all she has been through these past few years.
Throughout California & Other Stories, Megan walks us through the many stages of love, from desperately wanting it to urgently letting it go. On the feisty “I Want to Be Loved,” Megan eagerly chases after a guy, thinking he is the love of her life. In the verses, she shares, “So glad I caught up with you / Boy, I’ve been chasing you around like a ghost” and “What if I told you I thought you was the one / What if I told you I would die trying?” Her desperation for this boy to love her back really kicks in when we get to the choruses, where she shouts, “I want to be loved!” As much as she wants this love to be real, we know that a real relationship is scary to her, as we hear on “Send Hope.” Megan shows off her range on this slower track, giving us deep tones in the verses that swell and finally burst in the choruses, where she sings, “Send hope for us / You know that I’ve been looking for love.” This longing for love is broken on the opening track “California,” reminding us that love and relationships are not always what they are cracked up to be. Full of angst and resent, Megan taunts her ex, singing, “You’re so stupid” and “The sound of you leaving, it’s freeing.” In the end, she wants him to take everything with him when he leaves, but tells him, “You better leave me with California” before he goes.
Sometimes the way we view love has to do with the way we view ourselves. Inspired by the composed persona Megan adopted in a failing relationship, “Magical Thinking” is all about the power of imagination. Over a forward-moving groove, Megan picks herself up, singing, “I stand in the middle of everything, soak it all in as if I was invincible / I can do anything” and “I got my magical, magical thinking,” her fervent thoughts helping her get through any and all obstacles. The strong imagery conveyed on this track also comes through on “Carl Sagan” in lines like “I feel the cold and silver moon” and “Floating on a dot of blue.” Quietly, Megan reconsiders her goals in a relationship, asking, “Is this what I wanted? / Is this what I needed?” and asking her partner “Is this what you wanted? / Is this what you needed?” in return.
Aside from these telling observations on love, Megan also gives us telling observations on life. On “Something More,” she defies the expectations that others have of her, singing with determined vocals, “No matter what you do / I’ll still seek the truth / And it’s giving me a reason, so I keep on fighting.” There is also the stirring “They Gonna Talk,” which is a commentary on the relentless way gossip and false narratives spread. Using playful melodies, she sings, “Starts with something little, but the whispers make it hot / You’d think that it might fizzle, but momentum’s hard to stop.” This playful spirit subsides on closing track “Oil in the Ocean,” where Megan thinks back to certain moments in her life that have influenced who she is today. It plays out like a diary entry, Megan slowly posing questions like “Do you remember that time when I cut my finger?” and “Do you remember that time when I thought music could heal you?” while getting lost in the dramatic sounds of the drums and light riffs of the guitar.
Overall, California & Other Stories is a mix of emotions, music, and stories. Megan gives us a lot of contrast when it comes to the makeup of these songs, speeding up or slowing down rhythms, omitting melodies, stretching vocals, or blending genres. She also changes up the choruses on certain songs, as we hear on “They Gonna Talk” and What Gold Is,” throwing out the anticipated predictability of the words we hear each time the choruses come around. All of these elements add to the overall effect of the stories she shares on the album, as her choices do well to emphasize a moment, a memory, an emotion. For those wanting to lose themselves in adventurous, meaningful songs, California & Other Stories is definitely worth the listen.
You can listen to California & Other Stories on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.