Mickey Guyton’s album Bridges brings me back home with a soulful and pop-country sound

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When I was younger, my music palette consisted of pop and Disney tunes; as I got older, my music palette aged with me. The screen was pulled back for me from my many choir classes, and I discovered other music genres—country, classical, swing, jazz, pop, even genres my ears had been a virgin to. I still lingered around pop music as I grew like a plant that has just been watered. I hopped like a frog from lily pad to lily pad from pop, country, rap, hip hop, alternative, and broadway.

Mickey Guyon was born Candace Mickey Guyton, but she shortened her name to resemble a performer. She was born in Texas, and by the age of eight, she was first inspired by music. This year, she made music history by being the first solo black woman to perform at the ACM awards (American Country Music). Her music encompasses so many values from activism, hope, and learning lessons. She adds a soulful feel to her take on pop-country music, which is what this album is.

Mickey Guyton’s first song, “Heaven Down Here,” enters with an acoustic guitar as simple music plays in the background, and her soulful voice emerges through the music. The backbeat behind Guyton’s voice ties her and the acoustic guitar together like a ribbon. The phrase “we could use a little more heaven down here” acts as the chorus of the song while Guyton is referring to the world. She wants everyone on Earth to show more forgiveness, empathy, and kindness to all humans. 

Her next song, “Bridges,” introduces the piano and snaps as Guyton starts singing with a strong accompanied backbeat. “If smoke is all we see, how are we supposed to breathe?” Guyton wants us to clear the smoke that she sings of and figure out what needs to enter and exit our world. 

“What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” chimes in with small twinkles as Guyton sings along with the sound of these twinkles. Guyton’s voice in the middle of the song almost appears naked and raw. “What are you gonna tell her when she figures out that all this time you built her up just for the world could let her down?” The pain and emotion Guyton rawly displays in these questions she asks. She doesn’t want some girl to come in contact with pure euphoria just so the world can drag her around by her arm. The angelic piano notes behind Guyton’s voice outlines the rawness and realness of this message.

“Salt” enters the room with a robust drum-like bass and castanets drawl as a seductive Mexican tune strum in the background. The strong backbeats pair with Guyton’s explosive and controlled tone. “You think you’re getting sugar, but boy, you’re getting salt,” Guyton repeats this phrase, sprinkling and mixing more meaning within it.

“You think you’re getting sugar, but boy, you’re getting salt,” Guyton repeats this phrase, sprinkling and mixing more meaning within it.”

She is warning this boy about a dangerous girl who will disguise her true intentions, which she will lead him on. 

“Rosé” enters the room with an upbeat and sing-songy feel, creating a facade of it just holding the genre of pop instead of pop-country. The popular feel-good country tune was implicated in this song, making it explode with comfortable vibes.

“Black Like Me” is personally my favorite song on this album. I heard “Black Like Me” first before any of these other songs on this album because it was featured as a Black Lives Matter staple song. I fell into the world of it alongside the small beat, piano, and Guyton’s breathy voice singing “Broke my heart on the playground when they said I was different.” Guyton is speaking out about her personal experiences of racism, specifically when she was a child. This is a mind-shattering and heart-ripping thing to think about: a child having to deal with bullies because of what color their skin is. Awareness and attention is Guyton’s hope for this piece; her voice laces beautifully with the robust and essential lyrics. 

In advance of this album release, I had already become a listener of “Black Like Me,” which made me teleport into a different universe.

These layered songs stitched themselves into my mind, never letting me forget the power they hold. The countless ocean deep lyrics wash over my ears like a gentle stream humming its tune. From the first listen, I have been a fan of her soulful voice and strong lyrics. Throughout the whole album, I went through incredible lows but incredible highs as well.