Nicolle Galyon: ‘firstborn’ – Album Review
Nicolle Galyon’s debut album, firstborn., is out now, July 22nd on all streaming platforms. Take a listen and read our full review below.
Nicolle Galyon has been one of the most successful and important songwriters of the last decade. Her perspective on life is so unique and evocative: she writes so clearly about being a woman, mother, wife, friend, businesswoman, and so much more. The collection of music, firstborn., touches on all of these ideas and is performed in a way that really, only the songwriter herself could sing.
The first single from the project and track one is “winner.”, which is Galyon’s true introduction. First and foremost, she was born in a town called Winner, her mother had her when she was young, her birth father left when she was young, she’s learning how to balance being a mom and a successful writer… and while it’s a lot to take in, she is able to navigate it all, doing so poetically.
“The main catalyst was, ‘What would I want my kids to know about me?'” Nicolle says in a recent press release. “How would I want them to know me as a mother, woman, and creator if it all ended tomorrow? I had the concept and I just knew I wanted to write the album chronologically as if I was writing my memoir to my kids,” she says. “I wanted to do it now in real-time.”
Track two is the spectacular “sunflower.” about learning to accept her height — physically, being taller than the boys, but also being a strong presence wherever she goes. “You look the best when you’re looking up,” she sings. It’s hard enough to be a woman in the writing room – the add on wanting and being incredibly successful, joining the ranks of the “boy’s club”; it can be hard to feel proud enough to stand tall amongst said club.
“You might feel a little crazy // trying to fit in with them daisies // Someday It’s gonna be your superpower // It might take til 21 // but you’ll find your place in the sunflowers”
It’s a song for her, her daughter and all girl’s everywhere. For girls who are taller than others, and also girls who are ambitious and their presence stands tall/takes up space. Galyon is not only a songwriter, artist, mother – but she is a record executive/founder, for an all-women’s label, Songs & Daughters. This song is for all girls.
The writer’s list for firstborn. is like it’s own red carpet. Shane McAnally, Hillary Lindsey, Kelsea Ballerini, Sasha Sloan, Emily Weisband, to name a few. It’s not intentional: it’s just that Galyon is one of the best writers in Nashville and is surrounded by fabulous talent as well.
Several of the songs on the record are like social commentaries. “disneyworld.” is clever, but also weirdly nostalgic. “If it looks like I had it all // It’s because I skipped the ball // Never was a fan of fantasy”, she sings. “boy crazy.”, for instance, is incredibly catchy while being about the frustrating double standards that women face.
“If one second he’s laughing and one second later he’s angry // You wouldn’t call a boy crazy // Am I crazy or is something kinda messed up with the way // We never call the boy crazy?”
There are two songs on the project that were previously cut by other artists and two of Galyon’s biggest hits, “consequences.” (cut by Camilla Cabello) and “boy.” (cut by Lee Brice). Galyon’s own versions of the songs cut even deeper coming from the songwriter herself. Her delivery is more lived in – like there are more ink stains and smile lines that you can hear on the recordings.
Galyon would sing her version of Lee Brice’s “Boy” at songwriters rounds often, and her rendition of the beautiful song is a standout in particular. It’s incredibly moving to hear the perspective of a mother to her son. If “sunflower.” is for Charlie, her daughter, “boy.” is for her son, Ford.
“five year plan.” is a wonderful love song written solely by Galyon and her husband, prolific songwriter Rodney Clawson. The beginning of the song has audio of Galyon telling her children, Charlie and Ford, that their parents wrote a song together. It’s precious, and also like a time capsule within the song. There are also other samples, including audio of Natalie Hemby shouting Galyon out onstage while accepting their award for “Automatic” (Miranda Lambert’s Platnium, 2014). The melody and production is great, but the lyrics are what make this story. “Love don’t fit in a five year plan.”
“I’m doing this so that I have no regrets, so there’s nothing left on the table from me and my family and that I can be a good leader to my children,” she says. “If you have a gut instinct that you need to do something or create something or make something, don’t talk yourself out of it.”
Galyon does just that on the project, leaves nothing on the table, especially on the closing track, “death bed.” There are a lot of really evocative lyrics in it, such as, “You just weren’t in the car to see Superman cry,” but one of the best parts of this song is the stunning vocals. Galyon is able to truly establish herself as not only one of the best songwriter’s in town, but is also an amazing recording artist with a true vision. Not that the latter is surprising; few people are as visionary as Galyon is.
Nothing has been easy for Nicolle Galyon. Everything she has, she has earned rightfully so. Her talent and grit is apparent just by looking through her feed, but firstborn. gives people the opportunity to really get to know the woman behind their favorite songs. Boundaries will continue to be broken by Galyon, because that’s just her style. firstborn. is a close-to-perfect debut album. It’s a relief we finally get to hear Galyon’s voice – her perspective is always needed.
firstborn Track List:
- winner. (written by Nicolle Galyon, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne)
- sunflower. (written by Nicolle Galyon, Jimmy Robbins, Sasha Sloan)
- boy crazy. (written by Nicolle Galyon, Kelsea Ballerini, Hillary Lindsey)
- disneyworld. (written by Nicolle Galyon, Sasha Sloan)
- consequences. (written by Nicolle Galyon, Emily Weisband, Amy Wadge, Camila Cabello)
- self care. (written by Nicolle Galyon, Sasha Sloan, Caroline Baker)
- boy. (writte by Nicolle Galyon, Jon Nite)
- tendencies. (written by Nicolle Galyon, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, Cooper Galyon)
- five year plan. (written by Nicolle Galyon, Rodney Clawson)
- younger woman. (written by Nicolle Galyon, Hillary Lindsey)
- death bed. (written by Nicolle Galyon, Sasha Sloan, Jimmy Robbins)
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firstborn is available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released tunes on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.