Laurel Arnell-Cullen’s new track “Maybe Baby” shimmers in crystalline production, its amplified treble frequencies creating a cold, vast space. Over a simple two-note guitar strum and an assertive drumbeat, we focus on Laurel’s cadences, her words difficult to discern, choked up by falling in and out of love. It’s a technique similar to “San Francisco,” where her lyrics emerge in short staccato bursts.
Her performance clarifies on the chorus, singing “I’m so in love with you.” It’s a curious, pivotal moment, as the words are not spoken by her, but by her lover. In the aftershock of a relationship that held so much potential, Laurel reminisces of walking alongside him in the park, fastening to the moment when he whispered the words to her, and she hesitated, unable to find the love within herself. It’s the words she, and we, remember most.
An updated Fiona Apple by way of Florence Welch, Laurel’s voice cries out to herself, trying to figure out a relationship she’s gotten too far into. “Would you be forgiven / If I let you down?” she asks, but she already knows the answer. She finds herself inside his arms but wonders if “maybe baby I’m just lost like you.” When emotions run dry and one person is more invested than the other, we find ourselves saying “Found it nice to be together / But I don’t know about forever,” and while that can be devastating, at least it’s the truth.