Music Review: Lizzy McAlpine's third album, ‘Older,’ presents intimate folk-pop stories.

The first song on folk-pop singer-songwriter Lizzy McAlpine's third album, “Older,” spans one minute and 40 seconds. “The Elevator” climbs a steady piano melody to a drum-led instrumental before ending abruptly, placing the listener at the second track and in McAlpine's current dilemma.

“It wasn’t slow, it happened fast,” she whispers, preparing her heartbreaking thought. “I think we can make it; I hope I’m right.”  

The song sets the stage for the album: “Older” is a rich world to live in since the songs vary in range and feeling. Her songs center on development, relationships, trust, and being trusted. On “Older,” that means grieving and aging while watching others do so.  

Older” follows McAlpine's 2021 album “Five Seconds Flat” and its viral hit “Ceilings,” his first Billboard Hot 100 entry. The ballad, which soundtracked hundreds of millions of social media videos, was adored by fans for its cinematic depiction of an imagined love narrative.  

McAlpine, 24, improves her visual, scene-driven composition on “Older” for “Ceilings” aficionados. McAlpine's folk-pop songs have always been musical theater-inspired (appropriate for a drama enthusiast and one-time collaborator of composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul of “Dear Evan Hansen” and “La La Land”), if only because she can perform each song.  

Her lyrics include rocks thrown in water, a rejected cigarette, a crooked tie, a carousel ride, and frank truths, like on “Drunk, Running,” when she says: “I’m so sorry I stay/When I shouldn’t” atop piano. The record works when bold production swells to meet the artist where she is, not to impress. In “Broken Glass,” McAlpine belts above a rhythm in a bridge.  

The closing song, “March,” is a piano-driven yet painful tribute to McAlpine's father, who died on March 13, 2020. Since his death, she wants to devote a song to him on each project, preferably track 13. Grief musings in “March”: “Tryna find the lesson in it all but/I haven’t learned anything.” “I didn’t know it’d be this hard/So far away and then it hits you.”  

The title tune, “Older,” finishes with McAlpine repeating, “I wish I knew what the end is.” McAlpine's anxious words include what listeners want: A bold tone, a charming melody, and thoughts that only comfort listeners.  

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