By: Kya Brodgon | 8, February, 2023
Mere weeks after hitting 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify and just under two months after his surprise drop of “typical story” (which I also reviewed), eaJ is back with his first-ever EP, laughing in insomnia. Comprised of pre-release “typical story” and four new songs, laughing in insomnia explores eaJ’s struggle with vulnerability, alcoholism, and his mental health. While these songs aren’t fully brand new to eaJ’s fans - aptly named ‘Jars’ - who have heard them teased on some of his gaming streams, as well as performed at some Head In The Clouds Festival stops, having a remastered, official audio version goes a long way in telling a story through song.
After “typical story,” we go into the EP’s lead song titled “sober go away.” While the melody and beats are groovy and upbeat, the song itself tells eaJ’s story of his struggle with alcoholism, the need to feel numb to the world, and how much that scared him. Briefly talked about in this TikTok, eaJ tells the audience how he didn’t want to feel, and how he used alcohol to deal with his problems even though it scared him. Thankfully, he got the help he needed and has been on a positive path ever since. The opening of the song tells us how eaJ felt whenever he woke up after a bad night, “Sober resurface / Pills they stop working / And stomach is churning ( From the alcohol, from the alcohol)”. Although the music video doesn’t depict the entire song, it is still a powerful form of representation of the fight eaJ was having between himself.
Shown in a split screen form, on one side we see an eaJ waking up after a night of drinking, and on the other an eaJ dressed in a hospital gown—referencing the lyrics: “Hoping is hopeless / When ceilings are falling / Hospital calling.” They sing back and forth at each other, and eventually the hospital gown eaJ takes the bottle of alcohol from the other and pours it out on the ground, showing his triumph. The outro of the song seems a little despondent, “Tell me that I'm special / But what does all that mean / Everyone is someone / To somebody.” But at least to me, I think this verse can also be taken in more of a positive light. “Everyone is someone / To somebody” means that there is someone out there who thinks you are special. No matter what you’re going through, or what you’ve done, there is someone out there who you are important to. I think that’s a valuable lesson to take away from this song, even if that’s not exactly what eaJ was intending.
A common theme across the entire EP, “traveler” tells the story of an uncertain relationship. In this one, the speaker begs their partner not to let their relationship fade away. Quite literally, eaJ sings “Baby, we might just catch your vibe on the 405 / Don't, don’t let us die.” While the song is called “traveler,” the chorus has the speaker begging the person they are talking with to come home again. “What you been away for 'cause everyone’s home / You've always got a place here and that's set in stone / Everybody's home / What you been hiding for? / What you been hiding for? / What you been hiding for? / What you been hiding for?” Another song with heavy lyrics but a catchy melody, “traveler” gives me similar vibes to my favorite eaJ song, “Pacman” (On streaming services when? Seriously, I’ve been asking for years.) Something about the way eaJ rides the beat when he sings heart-aching words just gets to me.
An eaJ release that I have been waiting for since I saw him perform it at Head In The Clouds in 2021, “wallflower” is about being in a relationship where you’re so in love you don’t realize how badly you are hurting each other.
This message is confirmed not only by the lyrics, but also by eaJ himself. In a reference to “sober go away” and his struggles with alcohol, the first verse goes “You don't sound like the way you used to / Your eyes look past mine / It's f*cked up, I'm love drunk / And we know what drunk do.” With the following lyrics like “Same song, we've played it a thousand times / Wouldn't be enough to stop me from jumpin' and askin', "How high?" / Feels like the more that I listen, the more you don't try” and “All my friends, thеy ask me, they ask me if I'm happy / But I’m alright as long as wе're alright, yeah,” the pain of the relationship in question is obvious, but despite this it feels impossible to leave.
Another pre-release fan favorite, “castle in the sky” is a song written for those with anxious attachment styles and who feel like they take up too much space in the world. From the get-go, eaJ sings “Does it ever get heavy? / When holding me steady / Picking me off the ground / I know it's not easy to have me around.” Not only does this speak to fans who struggle with this feeling, but it is a direct message from eaJ about himself. eaJ is known for constantly and enthusiastically thanking his fans and his team for sticking by his side even when things were at their worst, and I think this song is a culmination of what he must have been feeling during these times. Having all these people look up to you and support you when you don’t feel worthy of that love and attention is not an easy feeling to deal with, and the ethereal melody of the song only serves to enhance the sadness of the lyrics. The chorus, “'Cause you, you live in a castle in the sky / Does my baggage ever make it hard to fly? / So high up that I'm feeling out of touch / Promise mе, I'm not too much / Not too much for you,” just shows how hard feeling like you aren’t worthy is. The need for reassurance is an all too familiar one, and I think it’s a very important message for artists like eaJ who are known for speaking out about mental health and other hard issues to talk about.
Overall, if it’s not obvious already, I absolutely loved this EP. All of the songs having a bit of an upbeat melody combined with heavy, emotional lyrics fits the title of laughing in insomnia to a T. As someone who has been a fan of eaJ for years, I think this collection of songs is the perfect first album release for him as a solo artist. Each story is heartfelt and raw and not to mention his stellar vocal range that is shown off so well. I can already see all five of these songs being near the top of my Spotify Wrapped come December, and I can’t wait to see what else eaJ releases and accomplishes this year.
You’ve made Jars proud, Jae. Thank you for everything.
This article was updated on March 24, 2023, to reflect EaJ's album name change from "smiling in insomnia" to "laughing in insomnia"