Megan Wyler
Upside Now


4.5
superb

Review

by Sowing STAFF
July 10th, 2021 | 29 replies


Release Date: 07/09/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Spinning eight years of pain into something beautiful

Sometimes, life deals you situations that must be met head on. For Megan Wyler, who released her debut album Through the Noise in 2013, it was unexpected medical issues with her newborn son. Understandably, Wyler made him her sole focus and priority, placing her musical career on the back burner for the better part of eight years. As with most trials that we endure though, Wyler came out the other side a stronger woman, and arguably even a better musician. The result is a luscious, moving piece that not only touches on the hardships Megan faced in her own living room, but also various aspects of the human condition. As Megan put it, "I am expanding/digging, coming to terms with untimely death, experiencing deepest love, emerging from heartbreak, lighting the fire of resistance, celebrating female solidarity, passion, fury, the cosmos. Lighthearted stuff like that."

Upside Now is all too appropriate of a title for her sophomore record. Not only is it a reference to how Wyler's demanding home life turned her career upside down, but it's also a refusal to dwell in the past. Wyler's insistence on living in the moment, as imperfect and twisted as it may be, serves as the album's lifeblood. Upside Now has a unique sense of urgency to it that isn't typically found in stripped down indie-folk, which can be attributed to everything Wyler and her child have endured over almost the last decade. Our personal lives inform music, whether you're the creator or the listener. Here, the rich textures and sweeping melodies illustrate a woman of quiet resolve; someone who's better equipped to sing about the storm because she lived through it herself.

Megan's angelic voice carries Upside Now, each layered harmony blowing across the soundscape like a sad breeze. Surrounding her exquisite prose is a nurturing cocoon of elegant strings, classical pianos, and both acoustic and electric guitars. 'The Calling' best illustrates those collective assets, as each eerie piano note echoes like a bruise tied to past trauma; in the meanwhile, drums build slowly to a smooth, glazed-over breakdown. Wyler's willingness to occasionally delve into grittier instrumental moments serves as the ideal complement to Upside Now's overarching atmosphere, which is mostly a lush and softly glowing series of abstract vignettes. This allows Megan to weave both somber reflection and celebratory triumph into the record's fabric with ease, and when she plays all of her cards at once - as she does on 'The Calling' - she's unstoppable.

This album is not limited to a couple of diamonds in the rough, however. Upside Now is a consistent rush of aesthetic beauty with underlying emotion. On the opener/title track, Megan sings in stunning fashion "let me feel it your way, let you hear it my way / we can keep our hope" before the song levitates halfway upon an updraft of poignant strings. 'Life is Sparkling' possesses one of the most sincerely breathtaking vocal melodies I've ever heard, and is accompanied by moving chants of "light the way, in the ever after". 'Symphony' is a free-flowing yet depressing ballad which accomplishes just as much through its silence and impactful pauses as it does via ice-tinged pianos and melancholic strings. 'Plenty' and 'Sparrow Song' both see gradual surges in energy until they each conclude in a flurry of warm, memorable refrains. By contrast, 'Starlight' and 'Gravity' each sound like Megan sitting alone on a grassy hill at night, singing to only herself and the moon. Upside Now is consistently gracious and beautiful; there are no moments where Megan Wyler falters yet there are numerous instances where she shines far brighter than anyone could have expected.

In a recent interview with Voyager LA, Wyler stated, "My lyrics rarely come out in a linear narrative form. For some reason, the lyrics I write have a more lateral entry point, and the narrative is often more abstract." While this is true across the majority of Upside Now, featuring gorgeously ambiguous poetry like "now the stars have lost their way", the experience isn't totally devoid of direct references to the pain that berthed Upside Now in the first place. The jaw-dropping closer 'Wake Up' is one such moment - and it's a profound statement of resolution: "there's nothing stopping me to flight / and in the night, it all starts again." On the heels of an eight year absence, with her son's health finally on the mend, it comes across like the uplifting mission statement that Upside Now needed - a note of eternal optimism to end things on. As this record comes full circle, so does Megan Wyler's personal life and professional career: Upside Now is an absolutely triumphant return, and one that should give all of us hope.



s
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user ratings (25)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Sowing
Moderator
July 10th 2021


38515 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Spoiler: you love this.

Digging: Needtobreathe - Into The Mystery

Slex
July 10th 2021


11857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh man this sounds tailormade for me lol

Digging: Isaiah Rashad - The House Is Burning

Sowing
Moderator
July 10th 2021


38515 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think a lot of people will love this. My first thought upon listening was, "where has this been all my life?"

breadisdead
July 11th 2021


15 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a fantastic album! Thanks for highlighting it!

Digging: Megan Wyler - Upside Now

Slex
July 11th 2021


11857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

God this is beautiful

Sowing
Moderator
July 11th 2021


38515 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is easily one of the top 3 aesthetically pleasing folk albums to drop this year. The lyrics, from everything I've been able to decipher, are top-notch as well. The opening 3 songs, Plenty, and Wake Up are my faves so far (that's literally 50% of the album lmao), but the rest is nearly just as beautiful.

Purpl3Spartan
July 12th 2021


807 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I’m listening to this rn and my jaw dropped like 3 seconds into the first track

Sowing
Moderator
July 12th 2021


38515 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

She's got a stunning voice that's for sure

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
July 12th 2021


3687 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Not too into this, but great review. Sounds like a very poignant story behind this.

Sowing
Moderator
July 12th 2021


38515 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Slightly surprised you didn't enjoy this more given your penchant for folk/singer-songwriter music, but I'm glad you gave it a try. I'm in love with her voice, so perhaps considering the relatively lo-fi feel here that's a single point of success or failure. And yeah, I struggled to find much depth to the story besides what she revealed in that interview, but I obv respect her privacy and am happy that her son's health has stabilized enough to allow her to pursue her passion again.

NorthernSkylark
July 12th 2021


11508 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Downside later. Will check.

Digging: Them Are Us Too - Remain

LewisShaw
July 12th 2021


347 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Feels like that Mree EP but not as good

Sowing
Moderator
July 12th 2021


38515 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I like this better than Mree but yes both have the voice of literal angels

Purpl3Spartan
July 12th 2021


807 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is so freaking gorgeous

Sowing
Moderator
July 13th 2021


38515 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've been hooked on Plenty lately

Atari
Staff Reviewer
July 14th 2021


26709 Comments


this was already on my radar and now I'm even more stoked to listen to it! great writing as always

Digging: Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Slex
July 14th 2021


11857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The ending of The Calling, god it's so good

Sowing
Moderator
July 14th 2021


38515 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah this is right up there with Lightning Bug as the prettiest album I've heard this year. Hopefully you'll love it Atari.



My absolute favorite "moments" are:

- When the strings rush in on the opener

- The end of The Calling (good taste, Slex)

- The entire vocal melody of Life is Sparkling

- The "it's all the same" line onward in Plenty

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
July 14th 2021


2587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This didn't hit me at all on first listen, but second and third listens have been killer. Great album, she has a wondrous voice for sure

Slex
July 14th 2021


11857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have to say, I much much prefer the alt rock songs to the pure folk songs, idk why but those don't really interest me at all here. They're not at all bad but I'm not into that kinda Olde English vibe they give off to me lol



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