Tate McRae doesn’t hold back in her compelling debut album i used to think i could fly. Like many artists, songwriting is her preferred form of self-expression. For a duration of 37 minutes, she shares everything, including the most personal details.
At just eighteen years old, Canadian singer-songwriter McRae has made a name for herself both at home and internationally. Prior to i used to think i could fly, she released EPs in 2020 and 2021, but she is best known for her global hit “you broke me first” which has amassed almost one billion streams on Spotify alone. Now, she joins forces with songwriters such as Charlie Puth, Alexander 23, and FINNEAS to craft her first album.
The album begins with “?”, a sixteen-second voice recording from McRae in which she talks about some of the changes that come with growing up. It’s a prelude to the rest of the album, a sample of what you might expect from the remaining twelve songs. From there, the songs alternate between emotional ballads and uptempo beats. As McRae sings about changing with the seasons, jealousy, and bitter truths, one thing is for sure: there is no shortage of emotions in this album.
From the start of her career, McRae has not shied away from being brutally honest in her music. Track nine, “boy x,” tells the story of a relationship that slowly becomes one-sided until it inevitably ends with infidelity. It’s a mellow song—one that is not entirely fictional. In her song-by-song explanation via Apple Music, McRae admits, “I was really talking about myself.” By not identifying herself outright, she shows that she is able to write about her personal experiences through different forms of songwriting.
There’s a change with “hate myself” where McRae shifts the blame onto herself. She makes it clear she is not the victim in this song, singing, “After I just put you right through hell / You couldn’t hate me more than I hate myself.” To put herself in this position and admit to her own faults makes this particular track stand out from the rest.
Though i used to think i could fly is meant to encapsulate the messiness of life and the struggles of growing up, most of the tracks don’t discuss these topics. McRae talks about losing friends and becoming aware of new fears in the opening track, but chooses to focus mainly on the various aspects of heartbreak instead. While this can be a major part of growing up, it is only one of many. Despite this, the songs are still versatile when it comes to other areas such as tempo and style; “don’t come back” samples Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me,” “chaotic” is slow and packed with gut-wrenching lyrics, “what’s your problem?” is snappy and looks at the story from a new perspective.
As stated on Apple Music, McRae was open to taking more risks with this album and it might pay off in the long run. It only takes one listen to i used to think i could fly to see that she is full of potential and will become an even greater artist as she grows and explores this new chapter of her life.
The sky’s the limit for McRae and, if her debut album is any indication, she’ll only continue to soar.