At 21 years old, singer-songwriter Lizzy McAlpine has left the Berklee College of Music to fully commit to her growing music career. With over a million monthly listeners on Spotify, the decision does not seem impulsive.
McAlpine’s debut album, “Give Me A Minute,” has launched the singer into stardom. She’s already amassed over 300,000 follows on TikTok and received a feature in The Boston Globe.
Taking inspiration from singer-songwriter John Mayer and pop and gospel artist Tori Kelly, McAlpine merges acoustic jazz and indie-folk to create her own sound, filled with layered strings, sweeping vocals and light marching drums. Her hit song, “Pancakes for Dinner,” which has accumulated over 6 million streams on Spotify, blends genres to create a unique sound that only McAlpine could conquer.
The hopeful love song opens with acoustic guitar and plucky strings to complement heartfelt lyrics. McAlpine sings, “Don’t wanna be forward / don’t wanna cross a line / but if I were to crash in this plane tonight / I’d want you to know this / don’t wanna say too much / intrude on your space / but if I were to crash and I never made it home / I’d want you to know this.”
The confession that follows is quiet and simple, and in the background, McAlpine adds on a simple piano melody and reticent drum rhythm. The composition of the song perfectly complements the lyrics; the plucky strings hang in the air along with McAlpine’s hushed admission, and the rapid, soft drums are perfectly in beat with an anxious heart awaiting the response of their crush.
The pre-chorus reveals the anxiety of telling your crush about your feelings, with the lyrics, “Oh, and to tell you is too scary / so I’ll just say something else / and I wish that you could hear me / when I talk to myself / but this plane might not land safely / so what the hell do I have to lose? / if I just tell you.”
The sweet lyrics and the minimal instrumentals create an atmosphere of intimacy, almost as if McAlpine is talking directly to the listeners. In the chorus, McAlpine quietly asks to make pancakes for dinner, echoing the theme of revealing feelings to someone. She sings, “I wanna eat pancakes for dinner / I wanna get stuck in your head / I wanna watch a TV show together / and when we’re under the weather we can watch it in bed / I wanna go out on the weekends / I wanna dress up just to get undressed / I think that I should probably tell you this in case there is an accident / and I never see you again / so please save all your questions for the end / and maybe I’ll be brave enough by then.”
McAlpine brilliantly uses the small, intimate parts of a relationship as the cornerstone for a lyrical love confession, but the chorus is where her jazz roots shine. McAlpine’s simple harmonies are accompanied by an effortless acoustic swing bass that balances McAlpine’s sweet lyrics and guitar melody.
The second verse keeps the drums and acoustic guitar, and it repeats the atmosphere of a vulnerable confession of feelings. McAlpine sings, “Don’t wanna say something wrong / don’t wanna be weird / but if you’re still in love with her, I think that I’ll leave it there / and I won’t ever tell you this / Oh, ’cause to tell you is too scary / so I’ll just say something else / like how was fall semester / and what was that song about? / I’ll try to hide the way I feel / but I’ll just wanna shout / what do I have to lose right now?”
The small variations in the second verse and pre-chorus characterize the object of McAlpine’s affection and deepen the relationship between the two by emphasizing simple attributes that only someone in love could notice.
The chorus repeats with subtle vocal tweaks, which point to McAlpine’s indie style that she merges with an acoustic, singer-songwriting feel. The end of the chorus crescendos into the outro with the lyrics, “Or maybe I won’t ever say what’s in my head / no, I won’t have to say anything / you’ll say it instead.”
The instrumental outro mimics the opening to bring the composition of the song full circle, while leaving listeners waiting for the answer from McAlpine’s love interest. “Pancakes for Dinner” is a reflection of the type of music that “Give Me A Minute” is composed of — intimate moments, thoughts and hopes, nicely wrapped up in an indie-folk and jazz bow.
Listeners can expect more of McAlpine’s lyrical excellence and innovative musicality from her highly anticipated second album, which she states will be coming out soon. Besides her upcoming second album, McAlpine just released an EP titled “When The World Stopped Moving: The Live EP.”
The intimacy that McAlpine brings to her music follows in the footsteps of Phoebe Bridgers and pop-turned-folk artist Hayley Williams. McAlpine said it best herself: “I really like writing about small moments. I like using details that you wouldn’t think would be a part of that moment but are. I have a really hard time writing about things that haven’t happened to me, and if I go through something, it takes a few months to sort out the feelings enough to put them on paper.”
McAlpine’s focus on small, private moments invites listeners to close their eyes, turn up the volume and follow along with her in these cozy moments of hope, and through even more moving moments of heartbreak.