For Anne-Marie, the UK’s first lockdown in 2020 was an eye-opening experience. “For so much of my life, I depended on other people to make me happy,” the Essex singer-songwriter born Anne-Marie Nicholson tells Apple Music. “When I was in 2020 with no one around me, I was like, ‘I don’t quite know how to be happy now.’” And so, forced to confront feelings she’d long suppressed amid hectic schedules and life on the road, she began therapy—and unlocked the inspiration for the follow-up to Speak Your Mind, the huge 2018 debut that took her from in-demand featured artist to one of Britain’s biggest pop talents. “I wrote this album over months of having therapy sessions and writing songs after therapy sessions,” says Anne-Marie. “It’s been an experience, for sure.” You’ll find much of what she felt along the way across the 12 tracks here, all but two of them informed by that time. Amid uplifting, empowered pop and the singer’s trademark conversations-between-friends lyricism, there’s radical self-acceptance (“Who I Am”), battles with insecurities (“Beautiful”), and heartache (breakup anthems “x2” and “Our Song”). Therapy, too, helped Anne-Marie overcome trust issues, particularly when it comes to collaborators—and you’ll find a cream-of-the-crop roster here, including Ed Sheeran, Max Martin, Rudimental, Little Mix, and KSI. But this album is no straight-line story of a pop star overcoming tough times: For every lyric of self-love, there’s another of self-doubt. “It’s an up-and-down journey,” admits the singer. “I still have bad days. I didn’t want people to think you just have therapy and everything is sweet as a nut. I just want people to find solace in this album. I want it to be there for them.” Read on as Anne-Marie guides us through Therapy, one song at a time. “x2” “This is a revenge song. When we were in the studio, I wanted to write about doing someone worse off than what they did to you, which is literally what I grew up being like. I was googling people's stories about what they've done to their exes—it was so fun just seeing the crazy shit people had done. Looking back, I think it shows that this is who I used to be and I’m working to make myself better. So I knew it needed to go first.” ”Don’t Play” [with KSI and Digital Farm Animals] “In 2020, KSI asked me to listen to some of his music to see if I liked it. This track was so garage, which made me think of my teenage years. I went to the studio and they only wanted me to sing the chorus, but I just wrote a whole verse—I think they were a bit shocked! It was nice to put my own little touch on it. And it was such a great collaboration to be a part of, because KSI is a brilliant human being.” “Kiss My (Uh Oh)” [with Little Mix] “Little Mix and I have been wanting to collaborate for so long. When this song came up, I sent it to Leigh-Anne [Pinnock]. Little Mix made it a hundred times better. It felt good to collaborate with girls, because for some reason, I tend to collaborate with boys. For me, this is song is about realizing that someone isn't treating you right and plucking up the courage to walk away. It samples Lumidee’s ‘Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh),’ which is the complete opposite meaning. But I just love that song. It was popping off in Essex when I was younger.” “Who I Am” “I wrote this one in LA in 2019. I was feeling really confident, something I’ve struggled in my past to feel. I went to the studio and said to everyone, ‘I just want to look in the mirror and tell myself that I’m brilliant. I don’t care what people say anymore.’ It’s a good release to sing that in a song.” “Our Song” [with Niall Horan] “I did a radio show interview and they were like, ‘Who do you want to collaborate with?’ I said Niall Horan. He messaged me after and said, ‘Do you want to get in the studio?’ The day we wrote this, I was listening to the radio in the car, and I just thought, ‘Imagine if you had that one song with your ex and then you split up and now you have to hear that song, and you hate it.’ Niall picked up his guitar, and literally the first thing he played is what you hear on the track. It was just a fun day.” “Way Too Long” [with Nathan Dawe and MoStack] “Nathan sent me this song and it was instant love. It wasn’t just because of what it said—even if it has been way too long since we’ve been free [due to the pandemic]—but also because of the vibe of this track. I thought MoStack’s lyrics were so clever. He completed this collaboration.” “Breathing” “This is a very different track. It’s the first-ever love song I’ve ever written, because I normally cringe when I’m trying to write a love song. My parents have been together since they were 14, and I always thought that would happen for me. But I’ve gone through so much heartbreak since then that I started not believing in love. This song is about coming to the realization that you can’t not believe in it. We tried many different vibes for it, from speeding it up to making it into a house song. But we ended up going back to its original form, only adding violins and strings. I think it's a nice break in the album where people can just take a breath.” “Unlovable” [with Rudimental] “It felt so good teaming up with Rudimental again. When I wrote this song, it was very basic and very slow. Rudimental put their spin on it, with the trumpets and the beautiful piano parts. They always seem to know how to make a song feel very positive, even if it’s sad. The lyrics are the complete opposite to the track before it. But that is something I’ve always struggled with. I’ve always had love around me, but never believed it. It’s been a massive contradiction, so that’s why I put them together.” “Beautiful” “When I wrote ‘Perfect to Me’ on the first album, I couldn’t believe how many felt the same way. It made me feel less alone. I always knew I needed to write another song like it on the next album. ‘Perfect to Me’ is about not feeling great but accepting it. At the end of this song, I asked all my friends and family to sing the chorus and the backing vocals in voice notes. My godson and his little sister sing the solo at the end.” “Tell Your Girlfriend” “I wrote this in 2019 in LA. [US songwriter/producer] Blake [Slatkin] had the guitar riff, and I came up with the chorus melody. For some reason, ‘I’m going to tell your girlfriend’ just came out of my mouth. We ended up thinking about what that means. I hate cheaters and I want to find every one of them and tell the person they’re cheating on what they’re doing. I basically want to be a private detective on the side of music. Beware of me!” “Better Not Together” “Another song that was written as a ballad. This was written as a very slow-tempo, very sad song. [British producer and songwriter] Tre Jean-Marie managed to make it very upbeat and positive. With the lyrics, I’ve seen my friends stay with people they’re not necessarily happy with. And sometimes people just need to accept that they're better not together. It’s a really direct lyric.” “Therapy” “This is the only song I wrote after coming up with the title of this album. Therapy can come in so many forms, like writing a diary or growing vegetables or speaking to a friend. It’s doing what you love and figuring yourself out. In this song, I talk about love being the answer to happiness, or getting tattoos making me feel happier. But when we remove all of the outward distraction, we see that true happiness comes from ourselves—from our own brains. It’s so personal. I treated that studio session like a therapy session.”

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