“In some ways, I’ve been making this album all my life,” Maisie Peters tells American Songwriter.
The English singer/songwriter is referring to her debut studio album, You Signed Up For This, that she released today (August 27) under Ed Sheeran’s label Gingerbread Man Records. The record is a stunning 14-track, pop-infused dive into the life of a young twenty-something. Throughout the album, Peters sings with emotion reminiscent of heartbreak, the resilience of moving on, and growing up. Consequently, You Signed Up For This is a set of songs that anyone can relate to.
In conversation, Peters described that the album came together over several seasons of life. The blueprint was laid out in the summer of 2020 when Peters escaped to the countryside to write “Love Him I Don’t,” “Volcano,” “Brooklyn,” “Talking To Strangers,” and “You Signed Up For This” with some of her key collaborators. Lockdown later inspired songs like the devastatingly honest “Villians,” and the home stretch before her album release induced songs like “Hollow,” “Boy,” and “Psycho.”
This evolution of production seems fitting for Peters’ debut album and her official stamp on the music industry. “It feels like I’ve grown up… which I think I did in the making of the album and in the writing of the album. It actually wasn’t that intentional to make it feel that chronological [with] emotional growth. I actually didn’t really intend to do that. With the tracklisting, I was actually pretty random with it,” Peters said. “I’ve come to realize, only very recently, that it’s a real journey and a real arc.”
Peters subconsciously created a listening experience that mirrors a coming of age story. This is an instance where art did in fact imitate life. The first half of the album whirls with a carefree and slightly cheeky commentary on exploring one’s youth. “It’s a blind emotion, whatever it is, it’s blindly upset or blindly angry or blindly hurt or blindly hopeful or blindly romantic,” Peters comments about the album’s start. The second half of You Signed Up For This feels more pensive and deliberate. From the beginning, though, Peters introduces her story via her buoyant and irresistible title track.
“I wrote the song ‘You Signed Up For This’ intentionally as the opening song to the album,” Peters says. “I knew I wanted to write an opener, and I knew I wanted to write it like it was a book. I needed to set the scene, I needed to introduce the narrator. I needed to be like, ‘This is who I am. These are all the facts you need: this is where I live, this is who my sister is, I’m 20, I’m probably upset, I have a driver’s license, I live in London, I’m moving.’ With that song, lyrically it pretty much just explains, point by point who I am at that time.”
Other songs like “Elvis Song” feel like a “pop stadium euphoric moment” to Peters, and the mandolin stands out in “Volcano” to pay homage to Dolly Parton and Kacey Musgraves. “Psycho” is a whirlwind of explosive melodies that Peters wrote with Ed Sheeran and Steve Mac. At the end of the day, however, Peters’ favorite song is “Love Him I Don’t.”
“It’s a song that I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time trying to write. Also, a song that feels like the amalgamation of all the songs I’ve ever written and all the sessions and all the music I’ve absorbed and love. I think it feels like [a] reflection of that and of everything I’ve learned as a songwriter and as someone who loves music,” Peters says.