Written by Hero Magnus

“I just wanna be loved less / I don’t wanna be loveless / I just wanna be loved by you / not the way you say you love me / this ain’t healthy,” sings seventeen-year-old Madi Meeks in the chorus of her newest single, “Loved Less.” As the lyrics unfold, it’s almost like she’s in the midst of figuring out what she wants right now, as we listen.

Madi Meeks is making her entrance in her hometown of Austin, Texas, known as the live music capital of the world. Last summer, she released her debut EP For You, which featured such standout lyrics as “roses are red / romance is dead” in the title track and “big world / but it’s a small town / try to escape the past / but it follows you around” in “Locked In.” The EP is set to a softly coasting singer-songwriter groove, with a creeping touch of country. It reminded me, musically, of Kacey Musgraves’ critically acclaimed album Golden Hour; both artists made ample use of lap steel guitars for a clean, bending tone. But, Meeks’ first EP showed a deft mixture of genres, and she didn’t lean too heavily in one direction. Based on Meeks’ former work and also the intriguing title, it’s not hard to be drawn into “Loved Less.” 

“Back in January of this year, I wanted to record an album that was going to be a departure from my previously released EP, For You.  For You is more Americana and was produced by Nick Jay.  I know that Nick could produce great Americana music, but I was not sure about the new pop-influenced material I was wanting to record. I called him up and asked if he was up for recording some pop music, and of course, he replied that he was.  He told me he had the perfect guy to help out and brought in Jason Burt. Originally, I only brought in two songs (one being Loved Less) into the studio to see if we were all on the same page and headed the same direction artistically.  After recording those two songs, I knew that they would be the ones to produce my new pop-influenced album.”      

– Madi Meeks

One of Madi Meeks’ many strengths is her unusual voice. Her tone is rich and low, with a rolling kind of depth. It’s just lovely to listen to, and it makes all of her songs a bit more heartbreaking. “Slid my heart into your pocket / kept your picture in my locket,” she begins, her elegant first lyrics seem genuine and innocent.

The verses are piano-driven and intimate, as though we’re listening to Meeks play this song just for us in her living room. After each line on the chorus she adds a twinkly synth riff. Meeks shows her musical maturity by not rushing herself at all. The song is a collection of a few well-placed musical choices, sparse enough to keep us close, but interesting enough to keep us listening. 

This song sits in a very interesting chronological slice of a love affair: when you know that the relationship as it stands isn’t healthy, but you don’t want to give it all up, so you try to fix it, even though you know it probably won’t work out.

“I was inspired to write Loved Less about an overbearing relationship (I won’t mention any names), to the point of feeling completely smothered, yet still wanting the relationship to work out.  With all my songs, I hope someone who is in that type of relationship can hear the song and relate.”

– Madi Meeks

It is a youthful thing to demand that someone change instead of just saying goodbye. In a toxic relationship like this one (“hear your voice / I just stop talking” sings Meeks in the second verse), it’s unlikely that the change will work out, and she will probably have to start all over. But asking for change is brave, and worth doing. Meeks isn’t giving up on this person; she doesn’t “wanna start again,” and she doesn’t want to be “loveless,” just loved less, loved differently. With any luck, her love will respond in mutual earnestness, and they can both start over and do better.  

“There’s a thousand things that make me want to break it off / in the future all I want is you,” she hums, repeating this soft contradiction twice during the bridge before breaking again into the central plea of the song, and the central fear: “I just wanna be loved less / I don’t wanna be loveless.”

“…it’s ok to request, and expect space in a relationship.  Two people have to be able to retain their own identities.”

– Madi Meeks

“Loved Less” is one of the tracks off of Madi’s upcoming self-titled album to be released September 20, 2019.

Listen Exclusively To Madi Meeks’ “Loved Less” Here

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