Artist Gnash Album We Label Atlantic
★★★★☆ “You broke my heart and all I got was this T-shirt,” sings the 25-year-old California singer/ rapper on recent single T-shirt. Affairs of the heart are often dealt with in the context of the everyday on this, his debut album. Imagine If rewrites the history of a disastrous, internet-era relationship, imagining if “everybody stayed in love, stayed offline …” The darker Nobody’s Home finds him alone with “a whiskey and a phone”. It’s playful symbolism, but – following EPs U, Me and Us – this has deeper waters. Many of the songs are highly intimate confessionals about doubt, anxiety and insecurity. The song Insane describes an encounter with his therapist, “pretending to be OK”, and includes an admission that insanity might at least provide a way out of his worries. Such dark angst isn’t delivered via bloodcurdling black metal, but within an acoustic, almost narrated, singer-songwriter format – think Jack Johnson or the Postal Service – that’s sweet, not downbeat. The incongruity could be cloying if it wasn’t so well done, but rewards repeat plays. He’s at his most achingly confessional in The Broken Hearts Club and beautifully candid in Dear Insecurity. The former emo’s geeky, nerdy vocals take most time to appeal – although duets with Ben Abraham and Olivia O’Brien sweeten that pill – but the combination of charming tunes and humbling insights (“It’s not about the mistakes you made or failures that you had / It’s all about the memories and little things you have”) are truly lovely.