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  • Andy Mockbee

Review: "September" - Katie Gregson-Macleod

"Do you like who I turned out to be?" singer/songwriter Katie Gregson-Macleod asked on the lead single to her new EP, "Your Ex." Following the viral "Complex," the line highlighted the young artist's ability to articulate a dissonance between expectations and reality. Now, with the release of her third EP, Big Red, she poses this question as an ever-transforming one. On opening track, "September," Gregson-Macleod views this change as a reclamation of selfhood and agency. Delicate, acoustic strumming and whirling synths open the single to familiar melancholy. As drums are introduced into the mix, the track solidifies into a bittersweet indie-pop anthem. "September" reaches its magnificent peak at the bridge, where an arena-filling guitar sears away the chorus' sparkling synths as drums crash like a statue crumbling to the ground. As the candle she held for an old flame dies out, she begins to recognize ways in which she falsely exalted him and their relationship. "I don't think that I believe it anymore," she sighs. The joy of new love is complicated by the sense of loss in realizing that she hadn't had it before.

As an opening track, "September" finds itself paradoxically caught between the past and present. Gregson-Macleod pens the song directly to an ex, but frames it around the dawn of a new relationship. Sometimes, these lyrics strike directly at the journey of their past relationship. "I know now that you were right when you let me know that I had changed," she tells him, "I know now that it was wrong in the first place." Written from a place of reflection, "September" finds some peace in framing this past relationship as a learning process: learning who she is and what she deserves. Still, though, the sting of hindsight remains prevalent. "That September will stay just where it is." Even turbulent memories can be gravely missed at time. But, later in the EP, when Gregson-Macleod asks "do you like how I turned out to be," we understand that she is too authentically herself to ever go back.

After sharing a snippet of her 2022 song, "Complex," on Tiktok, Katie Gregson-Macleod attained viral success for the piano ballad's tearful delivery and confessional lyricism. Soon after, she released a demo version and, later that year, the official release. Gregson-Macleod wrapped up her breakout year with her sophomore EP, songs written for piano. Born and raised in Iverness of the Scottish Highlands, the young artist began writing music and singing solo at just eight years old. Inspired by the likes of Amy Winehouse, Tim Minchin, and Phoebe Bridgers, Gregson-Macleod has developed her own voice for intimate and revealing storytelling. This year has seen the Scot collaborating with Grammy award-winning producers, playing to larger audiences than ever before, and preparing for the release of her third EP. The five-track project, titled Big Red, is another artistic leap for Gregson-Macleod, proving that her fire is only growing brighter.

Written By Andy M.

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