Lauren Sanderson is an Indiana-native with an unparalleled sense of self. She got her start as a motivational YouTuber, which quickly metamorphosed into spectacular musical expression. Turning heads with her self-released EP, Spaces, which hit number one on the iTunes R&B Charts, Sanderson landed a record deal with Epic and a die-hard fanbase.
One of her most well-known songs “Written in the Stars,” featuring PnB Rock, is currently sitting at almost two-million streams on Spotify alone. While we’re listing her accomplishments, it is important to note that she also sold out an 18-city tour and garnered almost 100-thousand followers on Instagram completely on her own. Sanderson is back with DONT PANIC!, a stank face inducing project that is bursting with hits and showcases her rapid-fire rapping abilities and remarkable vocals. Let’s dive in.
The EP begins with a frenzy of voicemails from her team pestering Sanderson to wake up and give them attention. “Shut Em Up” is rapped with an explosion of energy on an aggressive chorus. It’s clear from the very first moments that Sanderson makes her own rules and then plays by them.
“Differently” starts with pitched down vocal chops over a bed of synth. This track is powerful, with legato lines outlining the loyalty she feels to where she came from. Sanderson sings,
“Might be in LA but Indiana lives in me. I’m on my new wave, but I ain’t rolling differently.”
“Electric” brings a new feel to the EP with reggae instrumentation, over which Sanderson’s vocals flourish. The island flavor of the track, along with the lyrics detailing a dance floor attraction, is reminiscent of a Rihanna song and honestly stands up to one.
Sanderson excels in both her vocal ability and rap delivery, and her next track bridges the gap between the two. “Only One” is the shining star of the EP, and it’s half-sung and half-rapped. She gets across an all too relatable frustration with shallow people hitting her up, despite the central lyrics of the chorus being “blah blah blah” and “nah nah nah.”
“Better Anyways” slows things down, feeling more like a confession than a written song. Alongside stripped down guitar chords, she belts the line,
“Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go backstage.”
The song ends in adlibs, a softer choice than expected that wraps up the emotionality of the song with grace.
The EP ends with “In the Middle.” Heavy hitting drums and an infectious cyclical melody set the tone for being stuck in the middle of a tough situation, and longing for the person she loves most. The finale of the EP is an inspirational rap, tying together Sanderson’s successes as an artist to her humble beginnings giving advice on YouTube. If DONT PANIC! doesn’t get you inspired, we don’t know what will.