This past Friday, October 3, Kelsy Karter released her debut album “Missing Person.” The set of songs released was more than anyone could ask for. It is a simple 12 track, 36-minute compilation, complete with six pre-released records, four new tracks, an interlude, and an acoustic outro.
Karter shot to fame in early 2019 when she tattooed Harry Styles’ face onto her cheek as a way to promote her single “Harry.” She has released singles since then, but this is her first full album.
Each song carries an intense amount of emotion and heartbreak while being equally rock. Karter is sticking to her roots as the self-proclaimed product of a one night stand between Angelina Jolie and Mick Jagger.
The album’s opening track “You Only Die Once” is a rollercoaster of soft to powerhouse melodies. It truly showcases Karter’s vocal range. The song is backed by a rigid guitar and hard drum and skyrockets the entire album. This track specifically was so critical it was included on the album twice, not only as the opening but as the closing. “New Recording 254 (Outro)” is an acoustic version of the song and is the last track fans are left with.
Karter does this to cement, not only her versatility but the feeling she wants listeners to walk away with: one can only move forward and rely on themselves.
“Missing Person” is riddled with self-love empowerment anthems everyone can relate to. From “Stick to Your Guns” to “Love me or Hate me,” Karter’s message is clear.
“Stick to Your Guns” is one of my personal favorites on the albums. It has a slow, sweet intro and climatic build-up. When the song hits its rhythm in the first verse it embraces a fuller sound with her background band. Karter sings about staying true to who you are and to shoot down the negative voices in your head. Bang bang.
“Love me or Hate me” carries that same take it or leave it mentality. Karter personified it further through creating a fan video to elevate everything that makes her fanbase unique. The same concept of the “voices running [her] insane” was evident in this song, but was presented in a much more confident fashion than in her previous tracks.
Karter makes her other songs dynamic by fluctuating between lively and solemn rhythms. However, for “Love me or Hate me,” she changes the game but switching between essentially talking and then rocking out.
“Missing Person” is a rock album through and through, but Karter’s wistful and openly emotional moments are some of my favorite from the set. “Villain” is my favorite of the four unreleased songs. It is so complicated and real the way Karter sings about her past relationship and how she accepts where she stands now with her ex. She is able to acknowledge that she’ll be the “villain” in his story, but doesn’t care since she, herself, is happy now.
This emotional deep dive into her past was also present in the “Int – Coffee Shop – Next Morning” Karter chose to include as a lead into “Liquor Store on Mars.” I remember when I first saw Karter live, this part of her show is what stood out to me the most. I hadn’t heard of her prior, but after her performance I was hooked.
Interludes like this serve a special purpose when included in an album. It was so tender and real when Karter began to open up about the long-term relationship she had just left. Never had I seen an artist be so open about their life during a performance that wasn’t in song-form.
Candidness in songwriting is a strong suit for Karter. Not only does she deliver insight into heartbreak in her work, but her on-going battle with anxiety through “Devil On My Shoulder.” The devil is the metaphor Karter uses to depict this struggle and how he “know[s] [her] so well/ and [he] drag[s] [her] to hell.”
Anxiety is a mental illness, thus it is a taboo topic in society to discuss. Karter’s frankness allows her fans to connect with her because she is bold and unafraid. Those are true qualities of a rock icon.
Karter has successfully encapsulated a true rock essence consistently in her debut. However, she has also managed to create a set of songs that is more emotional and raw than most rock albums tend to be. Her lyrics are straight-forward yet complex. Overall, how dynamic this album is, is truly stunning. Her debut album is setting the bar incredibly high for her inevitable follow up.
All I can say is, watch out world, “Missing Person” is allowing Kelsy Karter to be found.