Photo: Stone Wertz
Midwest kids can make it big. The notion builds the emotional cornerstone of Lauren Sanderson’s debut album, but more than anything it serves as a reminder. A constant reminder of where she’s come from, how far she’s come, and the horizon she sees off in the distance.
The past year has seen Sanderson open for the likes of Chase Atlantic and FINNEAS, and with her debut album, she steps into the spotlight to present the engrossing reality of a kid out of the Midwest who is aiming for the stars. Opening on the aptly-titled “Begin,” Sanderson’s references to Frank Ocean and chasing endless summer days spent making love and getting drunk touch upon the simple bliss of life’s inherent minutiae. These seemingly mundane moments begin to inform the undeniable humanity that underscores Sanderson’s impeccable debut.
Through bathrooms in Seattle and hotel rooms in random cities, Sanderson weaves together her own personal experiences to present a story for dreamers, heartbroken kids, and people finding themselves falling in love for the first time. Even when we find her at her most sentimental, like in the reflective and self-referential “To The People I Hurt,” there is an all-too-familiar relatability to the entire affair. It is one birthed from the small touches: the stick and poke tattoos, the nostalgia-inducing nods to Cheetos and Capri Sun.
With an album title like Midwest Kids Can Make It Big, it is easy to mistakenly assume it for a tired tale of momentary decadence. Sacrificing substance for misplaced starry-eyed aspiration. And yet, Midwest Kids Can Make It Big arrives as so much more than that. Midwest Kids Can Make It Big is an eye-opening debut that doubles as a nigh-perfect introduction into Lauren Sanderson the artist and person.
Listen to Midwest Kids Can Make It Big below: