Riley Coyne ’24
Not many people have what it takes to give up their current life to pursue their dream, but Chelsea Cutler does. Growing up, music was always something she was passionate about, and her parents lovingly supported this passion. They enrolled her in guitar and piano lessons. While she loved music, soccer was also a major part of her life, which she continued at the collegiate level at Amherst College. Her time spent away from home while at school allowed her to start writing and producing her own music. Cutler started by posting covers on SoundCloud, quickly gaining attention, which then led to the official publication of her work. Rapidly gaining popularity, in 2017, Cutler decided to leave her college and sports careers behind to tour with Quinn XCII.
Cutler’s sophomore album, When I Close My Eyes, embodies personal growth, celebrates love, and expresses gratitude for overcoming obstacles in life. Her previous album How To Be Human had much more of an overall sad tone to it, as it was written during a time in her life where she was struggling with her mental health and depression. Even her EP, brent, a collaboration with fellow artist Jeremy Zucker, includes tear-jerkers that evoke emotion, as a lot of the record is focused on heartache. These earlier projects generated a media reputation for Cutler that is not necessarily true. In a statement, the artist expressed that “I know that people want sad songs because they want something to relate to and feel heard, and I totally understand that. But my depression and anxiety… things that I struggle with, and they’re big parts of my life, but I’m not a categorically sad girl.”
The first track on the album, “Forever,” is an upbeat song about finding someone that you can see yourself spending the rest of your life with. Cutler’s three-year relationship with girlfriend—and Providence College alum—Tilly Burzynski ’18 indicates that this song is about her. A supportive voicemail from Burzynski is included towards the end of the song: “Hi, it’s me, call me back when you get a break. I love you, okay? Keep your head up.”
One of the many singles on this album, “Devil on My Shoulder,” was released on Oct. 1, two weeks before the initial release of the full album. The symbolic “devil” that Cutler sings about is representative of her depression controlling her life. However, she acknowledges that her depression is a separate entity from herself. Speaking candidly about her struggle, Cutler shared the following in a very raw Instagram post: “For a long time I conflated the two and believed that my depression was a fundamental part of my identity. I don’t feel that way anymore. I know what my identity is and what my personality is.”
Unique vocals and the indie-pop vibe that Cutler is known for are apparent in the album’s title track, “When I Close My Eyes.” “Without You” and “If I Hadn’t Met You” focus on what life is like when you let go of the person you love. Cutler is a huge advocate for mental health and wellness, and in “If I Hadn’t Met You,” she mentions her struggles with anxiety. The lyrics “One, two, three medications, just so I can have a normal conversation,” normalize taking medication to better one’s mental health.
Cutler’s music is incredibly vulnerable yet honest at the same time. The lyrics truly give listeners a glimpse into both the good and bad times of her life allowing fans to feel such a strong connection to her. Cutler is an amazing role model to young women who wish to pursue and produce music on their own, and hopefully a new generation of woman artists follow in her footsteps.