First impressions are never very good indicators. Of people, of books, and of music, yet we still hold onto those first judgements time and time again, and we usually end up stumbling over our preconceived notions and into something new that wakes us up from how we thought things should be.
When Taylor Swift released ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’, we all presumed that her album Red would pop-orientated, lightweight and with simplistic, tongue-in-cheek song writing. When in fact it was eclectic, powerful and contained some of the most poignant and heart wrenching song writing of her career – “Maybe we got lost in translation/ Maybe I asked for too much/ But maybe this thing was a masterpiece ‘til you tore it all up.”
The same can be said for Taylor Noelle’s new song ‘Words’. It begins with what feels like an early-2000s pop vibe with its dreamy ambience and vocals, a steady electric guitar riff and a major to minor key shift. The opening words even sound like a typical clichéd pop song, “You told me that you loved me/ You told me that you needed me” but like Noelle’s previous song writing, ‘Words’ is smarter and more emotionally self-aware. Like the guy in the song, nothing is as it first sounds.
Take the chorus with the repetition of “Words mean something”, is Noelle reminding the guy in the song to be careful because words come with consequences when they are lovingly said, or is she merely playing with him and telling him his that his words though pretty were meaningless?
Back in 2016 when Noelle released her EP Out of My System I said, “her strength was in her ability to pinpoint a feeling, a moment, and then communicate that in a way that is honest and distinctive from other songwriters”, a strength I still maintain she has and which keeps getting better and better.
The pre-chorus is an obvious example of this with Noelle letting the rhythm of the words create the attitude and mood of the line in which she educates the guy she’s been seeing on the power of words. From an accomplished singer-songwriter this is amusing in itself but also smart lyrically as the song is about a guy who uses words carelessly without really thinking about their meaning or the impact they can have.
“You’re not gonna ever give a second thought/ To a remark after you let it out/ After it leaves your mouth”
The shift in the song comes in the bridge. Where it becomes very clear that when you listen to the song over and again from now on, your first impression was entirely off. With synths taking precedent over the steady electric guitar riff, the instrumentation gathers pace and Noelle’s layered vocals create a mature confidence and sharpness in her words. As if Noelle has gotten to the point in the conversation where she has had enough, and this is how she really feels about someone playing with something they really do not understand.
“Baby it’s like white noise static coming out of your mouth/ And I would listen for a minute, but I’ve figured you out/ Oh, everything you say means nothing/ And thank god talk is cheap/ You ain’t spend too much on me/ And baby I finally see you mean nothing.”