Photo: Ashley Osborn
Tate McRae is often told she's an old soul trapped in the body of a teenager. This observation isn't far off, considering her unusual amount of life experience for her mere sixteen years of existence. A triple threat since birth, practically sashaying out of the womb, McRae began her career as a dancer, traveling the world with her craft, and finding her voice and gift for song via her YouTube channel Create With Tate. And that mesmerizing gift is put on full display in McRae's debut EP, all the things i never said.
McRae's music career took off in a monumental way when the young artist released her 2019 single "tear myself apart," co-written by the all-star, 2020 Grammy-sweeping sibling duo Billie Eilish and FINNEAS. The perfect cultural timing for McRae's rise to fame, when the world is looking at young artists with unprecedented attention, "tear myself apart" became the melancholic, and at times masochistic, banger that showed the world that McRae's really could become a veritable pop star.
all the things i never said features three previously-released singles and introduces two more left-of-center pop bops, "that way" and "happy face." Though the concepts present on the project are popularly explored coming-of-age themes, including unrequited love, blurred lines in the romantic terrain, and a deep longing for real connections, it's McRae's delivery of these sentiments that continue to rear heads and open eyes.
Stand-out track and a personal favorite, "that way," is the perfect testament to McRae's incredible ability to express distinct moments of emotional strife through her unique thread of vocal performance. Similar to Taylor Swift's 2008 hit "You Belong With Me" (but the much sadder/ much maturer version), McRae relays sentiments of deeper feelings for a friend matched by unclear signs, resulting in perplexing dejection. There is no happy ending to this story just yet, but instead, McRae recurrently shares a feeling I dare say most have felt and a statement I dare say most have spoken (especially in private), "Friends don't look at friends that way."
Tying together these moments of coming-of-age with creative ease, "happy face" closes out the EP with a tinge of hope. Whether an ode to self or others, the ballad champions the power of empathetic support, while McRae's words relay feelings of safety and encouragement.
McRae finalizes her debut with the hair-raising sentiment "Wanna hold you up / Wanna hold you up / Before my heart gives out." Once she and the guitar do in fact “give out,” the listener is alone with static noise, a seeming conscience sonic decision, leaving us in silence, with only the white noise of our thoughts.
Listen to all the things i never said below: