Katelyn Tarver shows us that she is not a ‘Quitter’ in sophomore album

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Katelyn Tarver - 'Quitter' album cover

Recommended Tracks: “Japanese Cafe”, “One Without the Other”, “What Makes a Life Good?”

Artists You Might Like: Devon Gabriella, Emily Burns, Sody

As we grow up, uncertainty and hope waver trying to define who we are. We aim to fulfill every expectation, follow the right path and earn the approval of those around us, envisioning a life where every piece effortlessly falls into place, somehow bringing eternal happiness without questioning or concern. Katelyn Tarver explores the idea of losing those feelings and falling in and out of those sentiments in her newest album Quitter, released on Feb. 9. The album features those fluctuating realizations settling in, with the opening line of her debut album being, “I used to understand, I used to have a plan.”

While she was primarily known as an actress on Nickelodeon’s “Big Time Rush”, Tarver gained prominence in the music industry with her debut EP, A Little More Free, in 2011, and notably, Tired Eyes, in 2017. Known for her soft, breathy vocals, expressed through an indie-pop lens, Tarver is drawn to the unimaginable and unattainable questions that arise during uncertain phases in life. In Quitter, she not only asks but also tries to answer some of the world’s most profound questions, navigating the challenges of acceptance, self-doubt and everyday insecurities.

The album opens with the eponymous track titled “Quitter”, which serves as the pinnacle existential crisis, beginning the album at a rather low point for Tarver mentally. She sings about ultimately giving up on this defeated stage of self-deprecation. The song explores uncertainty amidst adulthood and the struggle to know who you are becomes the main focus of the album. The lyrics of the chorus convey the unknowns of her particular stage of life, “So call me a defeatist / Call me good at leavin’ / I’m just done with feelin’ bad all the time / It’s kinda nice to be a quitter.”

Listeners are taken on an emotional journey through “What Makes a Life Good?” as Tarver’s curiosity takes shape. No matter how old you are, we’ve all been through those moments of loss, regret and especially confusion. It’s often the case that no one has it figured out, not even the smartest individuals in the world. At 34, Tarver is still figuring life out, and after labeling herself a “quitter” to compensate for her confusion, this track delves deeper into her inner struggles, where a sense of wonder consumes you. She repeatedly poses the question, “What makes a life good?” Through her lyrics, she expresses a sense of hope amidst life’s confusions, saying, “I hope someday I’ll know — what makes a life good.”

She continues to contemplate life’s choices, where we must believe that the older we get the more self-aware we become. “Ignorance is Bliss” and “Parallel Universe” explore the human tendency to question life choices and wonder about the possibility of a parallel universe. We tend to question life’s choices and be painfully but unimaginably ignorant of the world around us. In both tracks, it’s clear the older we get, the more self-aware we become — at least, that is what we say to ourselves.

As the 11-track album progresses, Tarver grapples with asking those existential questions with “Japanese Cafe” and “Cinematic”. These songs employ deeper imagery, exploring a blend of insecurity and this desire to embrace the present moment when that moment is all you have. Tarver asks a deeply poignant question in “Cinematic”: “What’s the point of all this living / If you can’t go back and grab it?” It’s a reflection on the fleeting nature of life and the struggle to capture meaningful experiences.

For some, compromise is a struggle, especially in romantic relationships. “Revisionist History” and “Just a Person” are both explorations into the mind of the other person in these upbeat indie-pop tracks, fueled with confusion and acceptance in a new light. “Revisionist History” delves into this struggle for the truth when the truth is elusive, “I hear you lying about me / Are you afraid of the truth coming out? / There’s something wrong with your memory,” with Tarver including that, “You’re living a revisionist history.” In the end, Tarver concludes that she is “just a person.” We as humans are flawed individuals, forced to overcome life’s troubles and face that not everything is always in our own hands. Tarver sings, “And I can’t carry all the burden / I’m just a person.”

However, it’s “One Without the Other” that concludes the album and ties it together in this solemn self-reflection where Tarver must finally face acceptance while she embraces the positive and negative aspects of her life. In life, there comes moments where we are forced to reckon with those emotional disparities, and in this hopeful yet melancholic end to the album, Tarver finds some light — a glimmer of hope. Throughout the piano-led ballad, she realizes she needs both to allow herself to move forward in the quest to solve the world’s questions. In the chorus, she reflects on the dualities of life, saying, “I’ve been the bad guy and I’ve been the sunshine / Took me this long to discover / All the things I regret and the things I like best / Can’t have one without the other.” Tarver sheds old perceptions and is reminded to ignore the inner voice inside her head.

The word “quitter” takes on a whole new meaning in Tarver’s sophomore album, and instead, is a reminder to young women that everyone is struggling all the same, no matter what stage of life you’re in or how old you are. Tarver’s sophomore album, with songs released in stages over the last few months, is proof that the word “quitter” can be empowering while shedding the universal but self-deprecating insecurities. Quitter is a culmination of realizing that the girl others consider overly confident is just as self-conscious and insecure as the rest of us.

Keep up with Katelyn Tarver: Instagram // Spotify // TikTok // YouTube // Website

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