OneFinally, Noah Cyrus is ready to officially introduce himself. Six years after she began her music career with the single “Make Me (Cry),” the 22-year-old singer-songwriter’s debut studio album, The hardest part, coming on Friday. When I pointed out to her on a recent Zoom call that it was hard to believe she’d maintained a steady stream of music over the past six years without ever releasing a proper album, Cyrus agreed while trying to tried to explain: there was “internal conflict with past teams,” she said, and then everything came first while she prioritized her “mental and physical health” ( will talk more about that later).
However, more than anything, she started her career “very young” and needed time to get to know herself. Case in point: Once, she was supposed to release an album called NC-17—A cheeky title written on her initials, her age at the time, and of course, MPAA Rating for Porn with age restrictions (shrewd!). That project was eventually scrapped, which Cyrus is grateful in retrospect.
“It’s a great headline, but I don’t even really know if that’s who I am,” she told The Daily Beast. “Looking back an album would be called NC-17 seems like it’s the wrong brand or my vibe. I realized that I definitely prefer organic sounds and my overall aesthetic feel, so NC-17 doesn’t really feel right to me anymore. “
Like many young artists about to walk out the door, Cyrus spent the first years of her career trying out different genres like new clothes, seeing what remained. Early singles such as “We Are…” and “Stay Together” leaned towards the moody electronic music and subsequent collaborations with XXXTentacion and Lil Xan hinted at an interest in the then-trendy Soundcloud rap-mixed pop sound.
“I think I was just looking for an identity that I haven’t found yet,” Cyrus said of those early efforts. “I think it’s me experimenting and growing, and of course, maybe trying to change myself a little bit and try to see where I fit in, because I feel like I might not be the right fit. fit anywhere.”
“You know, I always make music that I’m really proud of,” she added. “And I look back at the music I made when I was younger, and I still find it really amazing for my age. But I’m glad I’ve matured a bit and experienced and lived before my first album, because you’re really getting the real side of me and the most authentic album you can get. So I’m happy that my first album is something great like The hardest part. “
An integral part of her sound development was her friendship with Australian musician PJ Harding, whom she met at a summer songwriting camp in Bali. Together they wrote a folk ballad.”July“Will continue to appear in her 2020 EP The end of everythingcreated a remix with Leon Bridges and helped her earn a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 2021. That EP marked a major turning point for Cyrus, who soon found her footing. in what she describes as “really simple” and “naturally-made” songs like “I Got So High That I Saw Jesus” and “The End of Everything”.
Because The hardest part, she linked up with producer Mike Crossey (The 1975, Wolf Alice), who helped her refine and exploit that “super organic” sound by filling the album with live instruments like steel guitars. pedals, fiddles and strings. For example, the title track climaxes with giant drums filling in before transitioning to a peaceful, harmonica-led tune. Meanwhile, “My Side of the Bed” is a poignant piano waltz, and “The Song of Loretta,” a moving tribute to her late grandmother, sounds like a gospel hymn. Classic country.
All that adds up to 10 track debuts shows that Cyrus, unlike many artists of her age, isn’t particularly interested in following whatever trends are currently popping up on TikTok or the radio. “I am definitely the most out of touch with those things. I’m trying, but I’m passing my 22 tiny years on this planet. I feel like a grandmother,” she said. Instead, she finds her connections in her Tennessee country roots, which run deep for the Cyrus clan, which includes father Billy Ray and sister Miley.
“I am definitely my father’s daughter, so I am deeply inspired by my hometown and its sounds. And my dad was a huge inspiration for this record – lyrically and narratively, as well as musically,” she said. “I feel like my dad is a huge reason why I have a background in the music that I do, and the one who carried that passion in me from an early age. My dad is a very passionate person, and I am very much like him. I was also very emotional. I’ve been doing that since I was a kid. I’m just super sensitive and really in touch with my emotions, and I’ve found that putting that into my music is a superpower. “
Accordingly, Cyrus fills her songs with uncharacteristic storytelling about what she describes as her “pessimistic” fear that the people she loves will leave her. “Ready to Go”, “I Just Want a Lover”); to the twilight of a relationship (“Every beginning has an end”, a duet with Ben Gibbardwhich She said she was inspired by her parents’ divorce); and a toxic relationship poisoned by drug abuse (“Mr. Percocet”).
The album’s best moment comes the second you press play, on the opening track “Noah (Stand Still)”: “When I turned 20, I passed / With the thought that I might not be able to walk. turn 21,” she sings. Cyrus previously explained that she did The hardest part after starting to recover from Xanax addiction; she told Rolling Stone Earlier this year, she was given the drug by her then 18-year-old boyfriend, and she finally decided to seek help after her grandmother passed away in 2020.
“The lyrics are about an actual conversation I had with a friend of mine around my 20th birthday. Things got really hard personally, and another year I really feel like I can’t,” said Cyrus. “I wrote this song when I was in recovery, so I would love to look back on that. It was a really scary time for me and the people who love me. And it’s a really funny lyric, but I also find that it’s the perfect place for it to be on the album — to start with something real. I think that one line will help you consider the weight you will feel for the rest of the album. “
That song, she added, “really tells a story,” which you can hear in the track itself: what begins as a melancholy, acoustic guitar-driven ballad eventually builds. and builds into a fun, harmonized song about staying true to yourself in the chaos. The song revolves around generational wisdom: “And my father said to me, Noah, when you don’t know where you’re going, stand still/Soon,” she sings. Likewise, Cyrus calls The hardest part “A very healing album” and shared that she is now “in a great place” in her recovery.
“I really just do it one day at a time and I don’t try and put a lot of pressure on myself,” she says. “But I’m doing great and I’ve been away from Xanax for over a year and I’m really proud to say that. It was difficult at first, but I am extremely proud of where I am now.”
“I really only take it once a day… I’ve been away from Xanax for over a year and I’m really proud to say so.“
When she wrote about her recovery and decided to share it with the world, she just saw it as an occupational risk.
“I definitely included it in my music before I actually made the conscious decision to go public about it and it’s certainly not something I consider a secret,” she explains. “But I felt that I was quite public, whether it was on social media at the time, or in some interview years ago that I look back on and I just saw it in the eyes that made me extremely sad, looking back. at my own photos or videos when I’m using. But yes, it all comes down to my music, and I want to be open and honest. It’s part of me and who I am. “
And now The hardest part Finally making her world debut, Cyrus seems determined not to wait another six years to come in at number two on the album.
“Mike and I were immediately like, ‘LP two! LP two! ‘”She speaks. “Yes, I have a lot of songs that I have written that I love. Some are older, some may be The hardest part but that doesn’t really add to that story. I’m totally thinking about album two. I always just think about moving forward.”