Gatlin shares a shimmering new song about the encroaching anxiety of allowing someone into your life as a lover while balancing the cost of seemingly inevitable heartbreak. Co-penned with Michelle Buzz, and recorded a Farmland Studio in Nashville, “What If I Love You,” is a universally resonant anthem. The shimmering production of her falsetto vocals overlays sun-drenched melody to illuminate the confessional lyricism of a sophisticated songwriter. With the help of producer Nick Lobel, she employs uncertainty to tame lustful inclinations, resulting in an audible push-and-pull.
“I wrote this song about feeling like I loved someone too much,” Gatlin tells American Songwriter. “Rejection is never fun, but especially when you’re all in. I found myself daydreaming about bumping into him around town. I just knew I had to write about it.”
The 22-year-old breakout artist, born Gatlin Thorton in Orlando, Florida, was inspired from an early age by music from the ‘70s and ‘80s, specifically the folk-leaning aspects of those. Her current influences tend to embody similar elements in their own music like HAIM, Phoebe Bridgers, Field Medic, and Maggie Rogers. Tracks from Sugarcoated, her 2020 debut EP, like “Talking To Myself” and “I Think About You All The Time” eased into lauded playlists like Spotify’s “Fresh Folk” and Apple Music’s “Acoustic Chill.” These placements further instilled her sonic direction as an aspiring purveyor of neo-folk traditions.
Though subtle, the bright instrumentation allows for a lightheartedness within her lyrics. Gatlin says, “It’s kind of making fun of what we do when we’re broken up with like in the line still looking for your car / just kill me. So many of us do that but I think are too scared to admit it because it seems crazy.
“I really want it to be a fun song that people can scream sing to,” the artist continues. “There are certain songs that I always play with my friends when we’re in the car or having a girls’ night. I want it to be a song that brings comfort to people who were rejected or broken up with and that they can then turn it into a dance party moment.”
With the help of Mossflower Productions, her accompanying music video brings this vision to life. Gatlin says, “It had been a dream of mine to shoot at Joshua Tree since making the move to Los Angeles at the beginning of 2021. I wanted the visuals to feel like a fun escape to match the production and lyrics of the track.” They wielded four different camera styles—35mm, 16mm, Super 8, and vintage TV—to capture the retro-tinged vignettes that combined into a timeless montage of a classic tune.