“In Pieces” providing poignant musical memoir of human experience


Noor Fatima

American singer Chloe Bailey released her debut album, In Pieces, in March. The Sidekick staff writer Nyah Rama reviews the album as Chlöe uses music to reflect on her life.

Nyah Rama, Staff Writer

It is a late Sunday evening. I sit on my bed, tucked under my fuzziest blanket while listening to the low rumble of thunder and the pitter patter of rain outside my window longing for a comforting, perfectly heated cup of homemade hot cocoa. 

With my laptop in front of me and AirPods in my ears, I resume my long weekend of studying for a medical terminology test. I hit shuffle on my playlist and “In Pieces,” the title track to singer-songwriter Chlöe’s debut album, In Pieces, starts to play.

I am immediately transported out of my lethargic state to one of melancholic, inspired and hopeful reflection. While most of my friends are at the Taylor Swift Eras Tour concert, the hope of getting to soon listen to one of my favorite artists’ debut album electrifies my body. I speed through the review I’m currently working on, bring up her album on my MacBook and immediately hit play.

The album cover immediately strikes me as a bold use of contrasting colors within the unusual image. At first, I thought it wasn’t the best fit for the album, but after listening, I realize the choice to use that as the cover is absolutely brilliant on Chlöe’s part. It is deliberately modeled after a statue of a porcelain girl holding her heart in her hand, which fits the message of the album so well. There is also a bold usage of red throughout the entire album that I feel displays its tone beautifully.

The album’s purpose is to show the world how much Chlöe has grown throughout her many heartbreaks as well as how she has grown as an artist. The songs are written to convey both the pain involved in all these experiences as well as the power she feels being able to pull herself out of the stupor and put the pieces back together every single time.

In Pieces has the perfect first track for this message with “Someone’s Calling (Chlöe).” The minute long track starts off with a choir hauntingly calling out “Chlöe” followed by the lyrics “Someone’s callin’, no reply / Nightshade’s fallin’, hear him sigh,” which invokes the feeling of a powerful homecoming and paints a gothic scene in my mind, something very similar to the season one ending of “Euphoria,” which is one of Chlöe’s favorite shows.

The following track, “Pray It Away,” reveals the power a higher force has had in her life even throughout her worst moments. The lyrics “No, I’m not perfect, I’m overdramatic / I feel what I feel, so my actions may vary and So close to doin’ something / Maybe I should go and take it to church” convey the message that while she feels the need to seek revenge like all humans do, she refuses to let it get the best of her.

“Body Do” displays a bouncy and electric sound, showcasing Chlöe’s continued growth in her vocals, similar to her singles, as more than just an R&B artist. “I Don’t Mind” is the starting point for the main emotions of the album, the feelings of longing and heartbreak. The instrumental components of this track evoke the feeling of  romantic longing for someone even before the lyrics are sung. The most creative and interesting part of this track is that it is not Chlöe who desires someone: someone is longing for her but she does not want what they offer. 

This idea provides a breath of fresh air from the typical love songs being produced because in a way, it’s not really a love song, it just masquerades as one, staying true to Chlöe’s goal as an artist: to sing about love not from a place of pain but from one of power instead.

Following “I Don’t Mind” is “Worried.” These two tracks compliment each other so well, from the melodies of the instruments to the message itself. On the surface, it feels as though Chlöe is expressing longing for someone or fear for her relationship. If you listen to the lyrics again you quickly realize she is coming from a place of power and self-love: “Why you worried ‘bout me? / Worried / I’m not worried / you not worthy / ‘Cause I’ma love me better at the end of the night”

The track “Fallin 4 U,” while short, continues the message of the album in the lyrics “Because I don’t need a man to dictate to me / If I should put his food on the table or not / I’m my own person / my choice”  The lyrics invoke a classic argument brought up in many conversations surrounding feminism in relationships with Chlöe making a valid point. It is her choice whether she wants to do the more traditional things in a relationship, and it doesn’t mean that she will do it all the time or that she is submissive; she is her own person.

“How Does It Feel” brought up much discussion as well as criticism because of the decision to involve controversial artist Chris Brown. Looking past the controversy, the track left me wanting more. The opening of the track is the same as the opening to “Give her some money” by Maliibu Mitch and felt like it didn’t fit with the rest of the song. The two artists’ vocals together are beautiful, but still feels as though they were missing something. I still appreciate the message the song conveys, which is that even though these two people loved each other and tried so hard with each other, it just was not right for them. Chlöe sings these lyrics as if this scenario has just played out, displaying anger and reminding the audience that it is OK to be angry and hurt even though both people genuinely tried to make a relationship work.

“Cheatback,” featuring Future is one of my favorites alongside “In Pieces.” From the country-adjacent intro with the strum of a guitar to that sing along-prone chorus with undertones of Chlöe’s signature silky smooth R&B style,  everything about this song is empowering and gives me future nostalgia for the days I will spend with my friends forcing them to listen to this masterpiece and sing along with me at the top of our lungs. 

The only negative thing I could say about this song is that it might’ve been better without Future’s part as his vocals had a differing energy and did not blend as seamlessly with Chlöe’s as those of Brown or Missy Elliot. 

And finally, we have arrived at the outro, the title track, “In Pieces.” This song is so intoxicatingly beautiful and feels like it belongs in the score for the popular television series “This Is Us.” While it does feel like a love song, it resonates with me more so as a self-love song, as if the person she wants to hold her and put her broken pieces back together is herself. From the melancholic yet poignant chorus “Ooh, ’cause I don’t wanna go on / Oh, livin’ a life that you’ve been missin’ / And I don’t want nobody else / To hold me when I’m in pieces” to the enchanting melody of the piano, this song closes out the album masterfully, leaving the audience with an aura of self-reflection.

As I sit here in awe of the journey I’ve been on listening to this album, I see the sun coming back out in a gorgeous sunset, which feels so fitting for In Pieces because it perfectly captures the human experience through the journey it takes the audience on, starting with feeling good and slowly going down until you fall the hardest you can. 

It perfectly demonstrates the messy process of putting yourself back together, and how sometimes there will be roadblocks along the journey to do so. While In Pieces does require multiple listens to grasp everything it has to offer, it is definitely worth the time. It also happens to make for a great rainy day activity. 

So, grab your favorite drink and coziest blanket and join me in relistening to this poignant and soulful expression of life.

Follow Nyah Rama (@nyah_rama) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.