Morgan Houston – Glow Up (2021)

Through the tracks of her debut EP Glow Up, Morgan Houston is contrasting light sounds with dark lyrics. A collection of vulnerable and honest songs, the EP moves from anthemic pop to chilled acoustics and upbeat bops. Through all of the tracks, there is a thread of upliftment that tempers the relationship trauma forming the core of the EP.

While touching on anxiety, self-sabotage and destructive relationships, the EP is also a wonderful introduction to the folk-pop tones Houston has to offer. Drawing on her classical training, Houston layers harmonies and melodic elements for powerful and moving soundscapes. While this is her first EP release, she has already been making waves in the live music scene of her hometown Sydney, Australia.

The EP comes to life with ‘Wait For You’ and its soft acoustic guitar. There is a folky feeling to the music that makes you think of the soft spring sun and the gentle breeze of a meadow. The piano meets the guitar to enhance the softness of the track. Houston’s vocals bring a pop edge to the track while considering the steps people take for others only to find themselves waiting. The single is a wonderful introduction to the trauma that occupies the core of the EP.

‘I Wouldn’t Dare’ has a more grounded piano opening that lightly pulses against your ears. The heavier pop tones that threaten to overcome it get your head moving. The interplay between these two melodic layers is really interesting and sonically brings the emotions of the track to life. The delicate piano line is often threatened by the heavier beats like the overpowering of one personality in the relationship over the other. Houston’s vocals have a slightly pleading edge to them at times as they build in power throughout the track.

The EP takes a sombre turn with ‘Killing Me’. This track is packed with feelings of realising that something is wrong in a relationship but tempered by the feeling of not wanting to leave. The harmonising layers of the vocals are amazing and give a depth to the performance which bolsters the emotions of the track. The shuffling beats get you moving and are a little more upbeat than the lyrics would have you think the song should be. This drops midway through the single for an earnest confession.

‘Do It All Over’ has an expansive feeling to the opening that brings a dusting of retro vibes. The layering of the melody is masterful as there is a lot going on that perfectly comes together for a moving single. There is a great beat to this track that has you moving to its rhythm while the vocals are vulnerable and honest. The touching performance brings feelings of wanting to stay in a relationship alongside the knowledge that you need to go.

The title track ‘Glow Up’ takes you back to soft acoustics with a tender piano line. Houston’s vocals are delicate against the piano line but there is a steely strength woven into her performance. Through the lyrics, she calls out a toxic partner and what they are doing to her. There is an interesting contrast of emotion in the track as she realises she is not okay in the relationship and is calling for help from the person putting her down. There is a neon night feeling to this track that shivers through your chest and fills you with the almost overwhelmed feelings of the track.

‘Not Quite Yet’ goes back to the folky tones of the acoustic guitar. Houston’s vocals match the folk movement of the guitar as she lightly calls out to the person she was in a relationship with. While there is a touch of freeing emotion in the single, it also has a tender feeling of holding onto the threads of a relationship. Through the song, you are hit with the reality of being in a toxic relationship with friends leaving yet still wanting to make things work. This is another seriously emotional single that tempers knowing things are bad and still wanting them to work out.

The EP comes to an end with ‘Silver Lining’ that opens with a vocal plea. There is a reflective feeling to the track as the vocals wish to turn back time. This reflective feeling is contrasted by the lack of hope that is woven into the lyrics. Houston’s vocals are pained and pleading in this track. She is able to pack so much pain into the single that it stabs your chest and chokes you up. The piano line that rises in the later parts of the single is hauntingly melancholic yet utterly beautiful.

Morgan Houston has you filled with emotion as he dives into a toxic relationship and the conflicting emotions people feel through Glow Up. Each track has a different style while touching on parts of relationship trauma that are sometimes overlooked. A poignant EP packed with sadness, it is a stunning debut that will stick with you.

Find out more about Morgan Houston on her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify.

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