“I want to try everything all at once”: Alice Merton Leans into Change on ‘Heron,’ a Radiant Record of Inner Transformation

Heron - Alice Merton
Heron - Alice Merton
Alice Merton takes us track-by-track through her empowering and spirited new EP ‘Heron,’ an energizing record of inner transformation embracing change inside and out.
“how well do you know your feelings?” – Alice Merton




When I read that herons symbolised and embodied the spirit of transformation and adaptation in Celtic mythology, I knew that I’d found the right name for what I was trying to convey with these songs.

Alice Merton introduced herself to the world as a loud, proud indie pop artist with “No Roots,” and for the better part of the past decade, she enjoyed life as a nomad.

Berlin was technically her home, but between touring, writing, recording, and more, it was one of many bases – and that worked, for a while.

But wouldn’t it be nice to have a solid foundation? 

A shifting perspective around her thirtieth birthday led Merton down a rabbit hole of introspection and self-questioning as she pondered her place in the world, wondering who she wanted to be and what kind of life she wanted to lead.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a quarter life crisis, but I would say it sets the scene,” she laughs. “When you’re not really sure who you are as a person, that’s when the real panic starts to set in.”

And so last year, Merton accomplished a lifelong dream of moving to London, where she’s now planting roots of her own. It’s a life-changing decision and a definitive shift for the artist whose “home was never on the ground,” but Merton’s never been happier – and the music she’s made during this period of self-discovery and self-fulfillment reflects that sentiment.

An energizing and inspiring record of reflection and reckoning, the five-track Heron captures Alice Merton’s inner transformation as she embraces change inside and out, reconnecting with herself to align who she is with who she wants to be.

Heron - Alice Merton
Heron – Alice Merton
Run away, girl, don’t you ever look back
There’s a hole in the sky
with your name in the cracks
So run away, kid, watch it all unfold
You gotta cut ’em loose to find your home
And the sirens scream down every road
While the signs light up, “This way to gold”
Oh, you’ve come so far to get lost at sea
Where the hell am I supposed to be?
So I cut the shackles and changed my name
And I shed my past like skin on a snake
But I came so far to get lost at sea
Oh, where the hell am I supposed to be?
And the sirens scream down every road
While the signs light up, “This way to gold”
But I’m attached to my worst enemy
Oh, who the hell am I supposed to be?

Released April 12, 2024 via Merton’s own independent record label Paper Plane Records, Heron embodies a spirit of introspection, empowerment, and intimate connection. Her first release since 2022’s sophomore album S.I.D.E.S. finds the ever-passionate singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist dwelling in her own dramatic depths, asking big life questions and taking it upon herself to be the change she wants to see in her world.

Alice Merton © Elias Koehler
Alice Merton © Elias Koehler



“In this EP, I’ve tried to capture individual stories and thoughts of the past year that I’ve collected… I’ve tried to be as vulnerable as I could with all of the songs. They’re all very raw and real emotions that I’ve felt, and stories I’ve witnessed in the past year, and they’ve all been connected in this move to London,” she tells Atwood Magazine.

“About a year ago I started to transition my move to London, which is why I called the EP Heron – because herons were one of the first birds I saw grazing in the middle of the city, in Barbican. And I thought to myself, what an unusual place for such a beautiful, graceful bird to be. But then, that’s kind of been the story of my life – landing in the most weird, unusual places that I didn’t expect myself to land in.”

“When I read that herons symbolised and embodied the spirit of transformation and adaptation in Celtic mythology, I knew that I’d found the right name for what I was trying to convey with these songs,” she adds. “The whole EP is an inner transformation and realisation of what I really want out of this life and which things are important to me.”

Alice Merton © Elias Koehler
Alice Merton © Elias Koehler

I shed my past like skin on a snake, but I came so far to get lost at sea…

Just as S.I.D.E.S. comprised Merton’s pandemic-era ups, downs, and psychological challenges, Heron represents its own distinct chapter in her life story.

Its five songs span a vast musical landscape, yet they all come together to tell one relatively cohesive sonic story of inward reflection and cathartic release.

“Every album or EP is an evolution for me, and I think I’ve continued with this theme of each song on the EP sounding different,” Merton muses. “I’ve given up trying to write similar songs on one EP, or songs that are all in the same direction. In my head, I want to try everything all at once. I think they fit together, but production-wise, they’re still quite different. ‘Don’t leave me alone with my thoughts’ is very different from ‘between the lines,’ in my opinion – but I have so much fun experimenting with music and testing people’s tastes.”

She continues, “I think it’s something I’m always going to want to do, so I’d just say it’s a continuous evolution of experimenting with sounds and seeing if people are still following the line. I like big choruses – big choruses will always be my favorite thing to do. Otherwise I’m just trying out different instruments and seeing where the journey takes us.”

But in between the lines 
I see words of gold that you’ve been scared to say
But in between the lines 
I seen you heart’s explode,
I watch your colours change
And I’m lookin’ at you from the side
Yeah, you lookin’ at me from the side
But in between the lines
I see words of gold that you’ve been scared to say
– “between the lines,” Alice Merton
Alice Merton © Elias Koehler
Alice Merton © Elias Koehler



No matter how intimate and vulnerable she gets, Alice Merton always knows how to get an audience on their feet.

Her story of inner upheaval and realignment is our dance party: From end to end, Heron is an invigorating, sonically and emotionally charged reverie. Opening track “run away girl” sets the scene with a sense of urgency and anxiety, finding Merton self-reflect, “You’ve come so far to get lost at sea, where the hell am I supposed to be?” That tension and turmoil spills over into “pick me up,” where Merton channels her emotional free-fall into a dynamic and irresistible anthem.

Brooding though her lyrics may be, the music itself is uplifting and sunny – a tone that holds equally true for “don’t leave me alone with my thoughts,” a sweet, spirited eruption of light from Merton’s darkest depths. With its bright, infectious energy disrupting the fracture from whence it came, “don’t leave me alone with my thoughts” is as catchy as it is cathartic – a quality that admittedly holds true for the bulk of Alice Merton’s material.

To her, this EP is all about the past year’s whirlwind adventure – from recognizing that she was lost and doing something about it, to trying to be more open and honest with herself and her loved ones.

“The journey starts with ‘run away girl’, where I introduce the feeling of being lost in oneself and not knowing what you are really chasing and ends with ‘between the lines,’ a song that captures my typical state of daydreaming where I realise the biggest messages and ideas will always be hidden away between words and feelings that I get to share with you, and that is truly what will always bring me the most happiness in this life,” she beams.

Havin’ problems sleepin’ at night
Wakin’ up, wakin’ up with shivers inside
I’m tryna navigate all the wrongs and the rights
My compass never seemed so broken
Will you pick me up
When I’ve lost all self-control, and I’m in a rut?
Free fallin’, fallin’, fallin’ like a newfound crush
When I’m on my knees, will I feel your touch?
Will you pick me up?




The chorus to that opening track is one of her personal highlights, finding her rising to a fever pitch as she sings: The sirens scream down every road and the signs light up this way to gold, but I’m attached to my worst enemy. Who the hell am I supposed to be?

“I think that’s probably my favorite line because I just see it – I see myself in the dark, running down this road, and then there’s this neon light being like, ‘Go this way to find gold and all the fun stuff.’ It’s trickery, though –I’m following the sign, but I’m attached, cuff-linked to this person who is so negative, and so everything I do is the wrong thing, and we’re both losing our minds. That’s why I really liked that lyric.”

“I love singing ‘run away girl’ live,” she adds. “It’s so hard to sing because there’s so much of the same note –you’re belting basically the chorus and there’s never a break. But that’s going to be so fun to sing live!”




There’s parts in all the songs that she enjoys – they all share her DNA, after all – but one of the EPs undeniable standouts, for her, is “how well do you know your feelings?” – a song that stemmed from a real-life conversation with a friend.

“I think he felt like he was just kind of getting dragged along and he didn’t really wanna do any of the stuff that he was being told to do. And there was a part of me that was sitting there and just thinking like, ‘Dude, you are in the driving seat of your own life. You can choose what you do and what you do not wanna do.’ Even in times where it feels like you don’t have an option, you always have an option.”

The song’s message is beautiful, admirable, and important to remember (and internalize). Its music video makes an even greater impact as Merton taps the London Contemporary Voices choir to join her in delivering a hair-raising, breathtaking and instantly memorable performance. It makes us wonder if all pop music wouldn’t benefit from a choir’s extra oomph.

Back on the road, you’re missin’ home,
and you’re still missin’ them

You’ve got your skin in the game,
but your head’s lost, you’re not listenin’
And they ask you with a worried smile
And they ask you, without tryin’ to prеy
Oh, they ask you
The question of all thе questions
How well do you know your feelings?




Alice Merton © Elias Koehler
Alice Merton © Elias Koehler

Happily making a home for herself in North London, Alice Merton is truly living her best life.

And in Heron, we get a bird’s eye view into how she got there.

“What do I hope listeners take away? Honestly, I’m never really sure what I want people to take away. I think they should decide for themselves,” Merton shares. “I just want people to listen to it and feel like someone’s telling them a story, because I love it when I listen to music and it feels like they’re telling me a story. So that’s all I really care about – and if people have a great time listening to it, then that’s great.”

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Alice Merton’s Heron with Atwood Magazine as she takes us track-by-track through the music and lyrics of her new EP!

— —

:: stream/purchase Heron here ::
:: connect with Alice Merton here ::
Stream: ‘Heron’ – Alice Merton



:: Inside Heron ::

Heron - Alice Merton

— —

run away girl

So, I chose to open the EP with “Run Away Girl” because it very much described the feeling I was having, I’d say about a year ago. I mean, I’d say it’s a feeling that kind of accompanies me through my whole life of like, I now know that I don’t really have a home in one place like that is just in various different places. But this feeling of being lost on the inside of not knowing like who I am, as a person or as an artist. Like, I don’t know if other people get confused by this, but it very much confused me for a very long time of like, who am I aiming to be as an artist? Like, what do I want to achieve? What do I also wanna achieve as a private person who’s not the artist? Like, am I splitting these things into two?
Anyway, there was a lot of inner turmoil, I would say. And just trying to figure out like, where is my spot in the world? And who do I, who am I? And so I think that’s kind of how the EP began. And with “Run Away Girl”, it was just almost this freeing thing of like, I don’t know, having all these realizations within one song, realizing that I’m not always gonna find the answers. Like even if I find all these answers about myself, I’m actually gonna realize that, I know even less about myself than I did before. So I think it was kind of just accepting that I’m not always gonna have all the answers and moving on and just saying, you know what? I’m not gonna always look back. That’s one, one of my favorite lines in, in that song is “run away girl, don’t you ever look back.” Because sometimes you just have no other choice other than to just move forward and accept the past as the past and let it be.
When you grow up and then you turn 30 and you know so much more about yourself, but you’re also questioning so much more, it’s like, “Okay, I thought I knew everything and now I feel like everything has kind of done a 180, there’s so much that I don’t know about myself and there’s so much that I thought I would’ve figured out by now.” I wouldn’t say it’s a quarter life crisis or whatever, but I would say it sets the scene as realizing that the whole “No Roots” thing, yes, there was that positive energy of it, but then when you actually feel like you’re not really sure who you are as a person, that’s when the real panic starts to set in.

pick me up

“Pick Me Up” was very much at a time when I felt like while I was going through this turmoil that I really needed people in my life, whether it was friends or family, that I kind of could rely on to then in that moment be there for me. So I think that song is very much like a friendship song of me singing to a friend, being like, “Hey, when I don’t wanna feed myself anymore, when I don’t wanna get out of bed anymore, are you gonna be there for me? And like, help me get back on my feet? Are you going to be the hands that feed me or force feed me when I know that I just, that I can’t do it myself anymore?” And that’s why I wrote “Pick Me Up.”

don’t leave me alone with my thoughts

I was in the studio with Paul, who I worked with quite a bit on the this EP. And I always write down sentences beforehand and it was kind of like, it was just that one sentence where I had written down like, “Don’t leave me alone with my thoughts.” And I’m trying to think how did that come about? It was kind of like, I just wanted to make it fun. Like I wanted to make a really personal song, which is often what I love doing. Like, even with “Pick Me Up” and stuff or “Don’t Leave Me Alone.” It’s just kind of like I wanna bring Joy to a really sad fact. It’s not really sad though.
It’s just kind of like wanting someone’s presence there with you when you know that your thoughts are like a prison for you. Like, you know you can’t escape, but at least you have someone there to hold your hand through those horrible thoughts. Yeah, I don’t know, it was a song that was just kind of really fun. We were all just really having a good time. It was, Michael was with us in the room as well, I think that was the first song we properly did together, and he did a lot of the stuff with Wet Leg. And so he came in with this really cool like, guitar riff that was just one note, but then we kept building up on the one note and it was just the rhythm that he was playing. And then it was this boom that Paul came up with, it reminded me a little bit of “Pumped Up Kicks” where it’s like, “Ah, the kids with the bump,” and the whole vibe of it just felt really fun. And I love just giving a fun vibe song, like serious lyrics.

how well do you know your feelings?

“How Well Do You Know Your Feelings” is a real-life conversation I had with a friend who we sat down and I think, he was kind of going through a bit of a crisis because, there were a lot of decisions being made without his consent in a way. I think he felt like he was just kind of getting dragged along and he didn’t really wanna do any of the stuff that he was being told to do. And there was a part of me that was sitting there and just thinking like, “Dude, you are in the driving seat of your own life. You can choose what you do and what you do not wanna do. Even in times where it feels like you don’t have an option, you always have an option.”
And so I kind of came out of that like lunch or dinner that we had, and I wrote down, “How Well Do You Know Your Feelings.” And I didn’t want to make it sound condescending ’cause in my head I didn’t wanna be like, “Oh, I’m like, who am I to judge how you live your life?” But at the same time, “I’m your friend and I want you to be happy. I see that you’re struggling. I see that you’re not doing well.” And so with “How Well Do You Know Your Feelings,” I kind of just wanted to make like a big chorus that I’m basically just like chanting at him being like, “How well do you know yourself at all?” And then I realized the bigger picture of the song where I was like, to be honest, I don’t think any of us know our know, know us the way that we perhaps should.
I don’t think we take enough time to actually get to know ourselves the way we should get to know ourselves. We’re never really taught that – there’s no lessons in school where it’s like, “Hey, today you get to meet yourself and talk to yourself and figure out actually what you want,” which is why I think therapy is so good, or even having conversations with friends, because it’s the first time you actually sit down and have deep conversations. And that’s basically what came out of this conversation, where I just thought, sometimes we just don’t actually know how we’re feeling – and if we do know, we’re not brave enough to actually voice that.

between the lines

“Between the Lines” is a very honest song. I think it’s the most vulnerable song on that, EP. It’s also basically a conversation that I’m having with myself where I often do this and I’m in a dreamlike state where I’m making up the conversations that other people are having with me.
It’s not a very good thing to do because you start believing things that aren’t true [laughs] but it was based on the idea of there being so many words and things that sometimes you wanna say to someone, but you know, you can’t, and there’s so much weight in those words in like, between the words that you can’t say, like the, you’ll say something to someone and then you’ll mean something completely different, but that person will never find out. And it just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger until you realize like, it’s just always gonna stay this way. It’s always, they’re always gonna be words and feelings and emotions that I know I cannot describe and, and tell you, but at least, at least they’ll stay in between the lines. And there’ll be words of gold that you’ve been scared to say, so.

— —

:: stream/purchase Heron here ::
:: connect with Alice Merton here ::

— — — —

Heron - Alice Merton

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? © Elias Koehler

Heron

an EP by Alice Merton



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