You can practically feel Chelsea Cutler’s fingerprints while listening to her third full-length album, Stellaria. While organizing recording sessions for the project, Cutler involved herself in every aspect of the process, from pre-production to mixing and engineering to post-production. During sessions in New York, Los Angeles, and in California’s Big Bear, Cutler and her collaborator Kevin White built the album from scratch, agonizing over every loop, guitar line, drum sound, and bass note. The result is both epic in ambition and daringly intimate. Cutler, who was born in Connecticut, continues the pop experiments she began creating on earlier records like 2021’s When I Close My Eyes. On “I Don’t Feel Alive,” she loops a mesmerizing vocal line before introducing galloping acoustic guitar and stomping percussion. She sings of stomach aches and lucid dreams, her hometown, and the urge to run away and buy a house upstate. It’s a journey of self-discovery, a yearning that hits most acutely when she sings, “If I could, I’d wake myself up when I am somebody that I’m proud of.” You can hear the melancholy in her delivery as she reckons with this last idea, the struggles of growing up. It’s equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful, the idea that something better is out there, if only you have the courage to look for it.

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