Sabrina Carpenter has masterfully crafted a deeply personal and heartbreakingly intimate, yet perfectly fun summer album with her latest album emails i can’t send. Her first full length release since 2019’s Singular: Act II, this album is her strongest and most cohesive by far- showcasing her witty songwriting and utilizing her vocals better than I’ve heard from previous projects.
As I’ve now listened to the album quite a few times through, I can’t help but feel like in a way, this is Sabrina’s equivalent to Taylor Swift’s masterful album Reputation. Following a year of media scrutiny and the publicization of her personal life, one can only imagine the kind of backlash she faced and instead of letting it tarnish her career- she owns it with confidence and takes the time to tell her side of the situation and does so quite beautifully.
The track that will most likely get the most social media buzz “because i liked a boy”, addresses the perceptions and harsh assumptions that Carpenter faced when the public decided to villainize her when dragged against her will into a very public love triangle. “Now I’m a homewrecker, I’m a slut. I got death threats filling up semitrucks, tell me who I am, guess I don’t have a choice, all because I liked a boy,” she sings on the chorus, owning into the perceptions people made about a relationship they frankly knew nothing about. Throughout the song, she compares the innocence of their relationship against the cruel and sometimes brutal noise surrounding them. It’s sad that in 2022, a situation can still be so sensationalized to the point that one woman has to be torn down in order to support another- and frankly the true villains are the ones who made Sabrina write this song in the first place.
The album’s title track and introduction “emails i can’t send” adds another layer to understanding what Sabrina has faced- detailing her own fathers’ infidelity and her inability to look at him the same. The stripped down, gorgeous piano led track is tragic in its lyrics while explaining how her father’s affair has impacted her own ability to trust in her relationships- which frankly makes the public calling her a “homewrecker” that much more heartbreaking. “When I’m forty-five, someone calls me their wife, and he fucks our lives in one selfish night, don’t think I’ll find forgiveness as fast as mom did, and God, I love you, but you’re such a dipshit,” she sings in a stream of consciousness like style. Describing the track on her Instagram, Carpenter says that this is “The song that inspired the record. Someone I looked up to let me down and it changed the way I love and receive love.”
Another album standout is “Tornado Warnings”, a very tongue in cheek and fun track about making a habit of ignoring someone’s red flags and choosing to see the best in them. “I drive you home, you drive me crazy, but that’s not gonna stop me, I call you out, you call me ‘baby’, but that’s not gonna stop me,” she sings on the bridge of the back and forth she feels in their relationship. The extremely catchy chorus is also sure to be having everyone singing “I’m lying to my therapist” all summer long as well right from the first listen.
Despite covering some heavy topics, Sabrina also balances out the album with some fun as well with tracks like “Nonsense” and “Bet You Wanna” oozing confidence and sensuality. My personal favorite as of right now is “Already Over”, which finds the singer exploring a relationship where her and her partner struggle to break the routine of being lovers when trying to maintain a friendship. The production is a perfect blend of pop and surprisingly country with the kind of knee slapping chorus that leaves you wanting to chant it over and over. “Yeah I Say I’m done, but I’m still confused, how am I supposed to close the door when I still need the closure? And I change my mind, but it’s still on you, how am I supposed to leave you now that you’re already over,” she sings on the chorus of how closure simply isn’t enough when you’re stuck on the moments you once felt happy in. It’s the perfect blend of heartbreaking lyrics and fun pop production that fans are sure to love.
The final song I’d like to discuss in this review is the album’s final track “Decode” which finds Sabrina coming to terms with the fact that certain situations are out of her control- finding in the end that she can try her best to let them go without taking it on herself. “There’s a weight off my shoulders now that I don’t chase you, being myself did that emasculate you? Learning from you that I can walk away too,” her message here feels like a true culmination of the journey that began with the opening track. As the track begins to close and the gorgeous violins continue on, you can practically feel Sabrina’s sigh of relief. It feels like finding her own freedom and inner peace- ending the album on a powerful note.
Perhaps most impressive is the fact that Sabrina Carpenter has managed to quite efficiently escape the “ex-Disney Star” phase of her career- transitioning seamlessly and quicker than any of her peers before her. This is damn good music and shouldn’t be belittled to headline grabbing hot takes. Sabrina Carpenter has cemented herself as here to stay- a successful singer, songwriter, actress and more. If you can’t see that, you’re simply not paying attention.
There’s more to emails i can’t send then the relationship drama that surrounded it. It’s a story of trauma at a young age and the harmful ways our society still tries to tear women down. But it’s also a story of taking what they try to belittle you with and owning it instead of letting it hold any power over you. And for that, Sabrina Carpenter deserves all of your praise.
emails i can’t send is out now on all streaming platforms!