Julia Michaels’ debut album Not In Chronological Order is, at its core, a love story. Created entirely during the pandemic, this album is not only a perfect introduction to her music and who she is as an artist, it’s an earnest look at her past year.
With 10 songs that make up about a half hour of listening, it is not your usual pop album. Julia’s lyrics have made her a music industry pro for other artists. However, when she writes for herself it’s like magic, as proven with her two GRAMMY nominations for Song of the Year for “Issues” and “If The World Was Ending” with boyfriend JP Saxe.
Julia essentially created a puzzle out of an album, telling her love story out of order to embody the emotions one feels all at once in a relationship: adoration, insecurity, curiosity, and more.
While the shuffle-friendly nature of the album is appealing, listening to the tracks in their intended order gives the full emotional effect and appropriate mix of upbeat bops and reflective ballads. Her hand in the production of Not In Chronological Order helped facilitate the wonderful specificity of the lyrics she sings. The rockier elements and disco vibes that were incorporated in songs “All Your Exes” and “Wrapped Around” bring out the different inflections in Julia’s voice.
The storytelling within the songs is also noteworthy. The fifth track “Orange Magic” details the start of a relationship and the head-in-the-clouds state that comes with it: “I took apart my couch cushions looking for my feelings / Now I’m in them.” “That’s The Kind of Woman” has quickly become a fan-favorite, and with good reason. It’s a brutally honest song about things she wishes she could change about herself.
“History” is also a standout that’s reminiscent of the “getting to know you” time in a relationship. She asks questions like, “Do you cry when movies hit home?” and “Do you ever miss your ex?” The inquisitive song is the precursor to “All Your Exes,” which Julia tells Apple Music “is the response of knowing too much.”
Julia Michaels uses Not In Chronological Order as a vessel to express the emotions she’s discovered that come with finding something real in a relationship. She is a sincere songwriter with a mastery of music that will undoubtedly serve her for many more albums to come.