Wake up, babe, Maddie Zahm’s new EP just dropped. It’s here, folks! If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because it is. Zahm’s music has been floating around Instagram and Tik Tok since the beginning of the year, after the release of Zahm’s single “Fat Funny Friend,” swiftly resulting in some rather quick internet fame and a skyrocket moment in her career (the song is about to hit 30 million streams on Spotify).
Zahm has been on an extensive journey these past few months as she made the decision to leave her home state of Idaho—as well as leave her church—to move to Los Angeles to focus on her music career. She has also been working on being able to freely discuss her sexuality, a topic of conversation in her music, as she has just recently came out.
With Zahm experiencing an abundant amount of emotions and partaking in some self-reflecting, this next series of music Zahm has created explores her struggles of learning about self-love, self-acceptance, and coming to terms with her own identity: all while worrying about the opinion of others, from within in the church and beyond, and how there is a lesson to be learned from all of it. So, everyone strap in and hold on tight: this one’s an emotional rollercoaster.
Starting off the EP, “Pocket Bible” is a short but sentimental taste of what the title might suggest. It starts with a drawn-out, angelic violin note that flows into the simple melodies of guitar notes with pronounced runes. Throughout the EP, Zahm includes hints of biblical symbolism in her songs, but this is the first piece where we hear about what she could be talking about. This is a small song with a big message shown: the telling of a story of someone who is growing up with the idea of having to live life in a way that would please God and riddled with constant questioning of their actions and if they’re deemed “acceptable” in His eyes.
“What happens when you kiss a girl for Christ’s sake? If I’m getting high am I a mistake? A good kid gone bad.”
If you’ve been on social media these past few months, chances are you’ve already heard of Zahm’s single “Fat Funny Friend,” the second track on the project. If you haven’t, this piece is entirely what it sounds like, being the friend people keep around to make themselves look better, and sadly, I feel like a fair majority of people can relate to what’s being shared here. Expressions of anger and the feeling of being fed up with beauty standards flow effortlessly throughout the song as Zahm sings about the resentment she feels surrounding the pressure to look how others want her to look, all while also struggling with the perception of her image in her own eyes, trying to convince herself she’s just as human as anyone else.
“Can’t be too proud. Can’t think I’m pretty. Do they keep me around, so their flaws just seem silly?”
The 3rd track, a personal favorite, is titled “If It’s Not God.” This one goes back to the religious undertones as Zahm shares what it’s like to grow up as a queer kid within the church, expressing the constant worry about disappointing her family if she ends up not being what she felt she had to be.
“If It’s Not God” is an anthem for people who feel they can’t be their true selves or for anyone who feels betrayed by what the church or others have taught them. The melody is smooth, yet melodramatic with soft symphonies of piano keys and strong lyrics to back up the vocals and choir in the background. Zahm communicates the message that it’s okay to be yourself and you should be able to express yourself how you want. It’s important to heal yourself from negativity because you know yourself better than anyone else, a message perfectly conveyed within this track.
“I let them call me the liar. All the Sundays I worried I’d disappoint my mom, cause I never understood a type of love being wrong.”
“Inevitable” is the 4th track of Zahm’s EP, and it most definitely tugs on the heartstrings. This song could be looked at from two contrasting sides: one being a tragic love story between two people, and the second being a story about someone fighting their trauma. To me, “Inevitable” feels like a complicated narrative about someone’s self and how their brain is conspiring against them by reminding them of ideas that aren’t true. It sounds like Zahm is talking to her past self and how she was treated by the people around her. Of course, this brings out frustrations and inner questioning, resulting in the feeling of being trapped in the way you thought about yourself in the past and if you’ll ever grow out of that way of thinking or if you’re just…stuck.
“This has more push than it ever had pull. We’re Inevitable.”
And of course, the last and star of the show track of the EP is another tear-jerker. You might have also heard this one making its rounds back in June, as it became another quick hit. For many listeners, “You Might Not Like Her” will be one of the most relatable tracks. I feel like there are a vast amount of people in this world that can relate to the idea of not liking yourself as you’re growing up, but in the end, you realize who you are is completely enough and worthy just by being yourself.
One of the main points in this melody is the fact that Zahm seems to be singing to her younger self that was coming to terms with her bisexuality and feeling panicked. Zahm assures this younger girl that life will be complicated, it’s true. That there will be confusing parts that feel wrong, you’ll be confused and anxious and it’ll be hard to get through, but in the end, you’ll figure it out. Acceptance will seep in and happiness will take over. There will be a day where you love yourself, even though it doesn’t feel like it.
“Someday you’ll learn to keep your own secrets. Say you’re doing okay and really mean it. You’ll lose your faith a bit and question if she’s you. And for awhile you might not like her, but I do.”
You Might Not Like Her is jam-packed with sentiment and feelings of betrayal, confusion, and vexation that slowly turn into affirmation, recognition, and self-righteousness. Heartache is shared for you to feel and experience yourself on You Might Not Like Her but of course, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
This might not be an EP you can happily dance around to, but there’s soul and truth within this masterpiece with powerful ballads that will leave you feeling healed and refreshed. I feel like everyone can relate to needing to let go and scream out your feelings once in a while to release yourself, and now is the perfect opportunity to do so.
You Might Not Like Her is out now.