Arista · October 8, 2021
I first became familiar with Taylor Upsahl – known by her stage name UPSAHL – from the TikTok dance trend that used her single, “Drugs.” Although TikTok dance trends usually turn me away from a song, I found myself intrigued and doing more research on this song and its singer. After finding UPSAHL’s own personal TikTok account, I was immediately hooked by her talent. She plays her guitar and sings harmonies along to funny, viral TikTok videos. It’s a difficult task to make music that accompanies people talking and sounds good, so I knew that her own original music would be just as impressive.
UPSAHL attended Arizona School for the Arts for middle and high school, and released a self-titled EP at the age of 14. She is classically trained in piano, guitar, and choir. Besides making her own music, she has also spent time co-writing for artists like Dua Lipa and Madison Beer. Now 22 years old, UPSAHL has released her debut album Lady Jesus. The album follows UPSAHL on a journey of self-discovery through heartbreak, peer pressure, drugs, and a very low bank account balance. Although the themes discussed are heavy-hitting, the songs are so up-tempo and fun that you’re glad to be along for the ride. Lady Jesus is Phoebe Bridgers meets Avril Lavigne meets Doja Cat, with honest lyrics, pop punk influences, and plenty of sassiness.
The album opens with “Douchebag,” which confidently and concisely calls out an ex for being, well, a douchebag. It’s the kind of catchy, post-breakup song you want to scream in your car. The song sets the tone for the next few tracks. “Douchebag” explores a cheating boyfriend, “Melatonin” discusses insomnia and anxiety, “Time of my Life” tackles depression, and “Thriving” simply describes one of the worst days UPSAHL’s ever had. UPSAHL introduces miserable situations but presents them with high energy, strong vocals, and catchy hooks, turning her worst nightmares into relatable anthems. It’s refreshing to hear an artist sing about these topics with an upbeat confidence and conviction, reminding us that our worst days only make us stronger – and if we’re lucky, fuel us with inspiration for a hit debut album.
Halfway through Lady Jesus, the song “Notorious” is the first indication of UPSAHL’s journey towards becoming the self proclaimed Lady Jesus. She realizes that she is “notorious” on her own, without a man or without needing affirmation, singing “I shove all your opinions to the side.” This declaration of self-confidence is one of her best tracks on the album, with electronic music and memorable hooks reminiscent of “Bad Girls” by M.I.A.
UPSAHL continues to explore feelings of acceptance and healing throughout the following tracks, ending with the album’s namesake, “Lady Jesus.” An entertaining finale, “Lady Jesus” is UPSAHL’s announcement that “It’s the second coming, baby, watch out,” and she is stronger and better than ever before. She now has faith in herself and her life. “Lady Jesus” is a strong finish to the album, combining great vocals, pop/punk/rock influences, and powerful bass lines.
The one thing Lady Jesus lacks is a slower song; it would be nice to hear UPSAHL showcase her talent in an acoustic track or ballad, without all the bells and whistles. Listening through the album from start to finish, the songs begin to sound similar, and would benefit from a break in tempo. Perhaps a ballad is down the line for UPSAHL, and she first wanted to get our attention with the energy and excitement of Lady Jesus. UPSAHL really is the Lady Jesus, and she is here to stay.