“Set Me Free” by Joshua Bassett
Earlier we had reported that the three tracks featured on Joshua Bassett’s latest EP, which itself is named after the songs, were a trilogy. That is the impression we got after reading about the project from other sources, on top of the insinuation that the intended addressee throughout it all is Olivia Rodrigo.
But now, after actually studying each track individually, it also becomes more apparent that such may not be the case. “Crisis” sounds a lot like it is related to Bassett’s issues with Rodrigo. But as we have pointed out in our analysis of “Secret“, it is possible, though not likely, that the lyrics of that song are aimed at someone else.
And as for “Set Me Free”, Joshua himself has more or less stated that, at least foundationally, this song has nothing to do with Olivia or romance at all.
Instead, unfortunately for the singer, he has been the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of an older male. According to Joshua, that is an aspect of his personal history that he didn’t even recall until recently. This is because he had buried it so deep into his soul and did not really understand what was transpiring when it did actually happen.
And the singer is using that experience as a jumpoff point to also address other individuals in his life who, most simply put, used whatever authority they had over Joshua to abuse him. And the conclusive message is supposed to be that yes, they did in fact cause him harm, but it isn’t like he’s so weak that their actions destroyed him.
A Romantic Interest in the Mix
But that said, it is theoretically possible that he is addressing a romantic interest, even Olivia Rodrigo, throughout this EP. In fact the first verse especially comes off like a passage you’d find in a breakup song. Here, the singer not only acknowledges that the addressee hurt him, but also that he had engaged in his fair share of negativity towards that person also, with Joshua even being apologetic in that regard.
However by the time we reach the chorus, the sentiment changes, and the vocalist presents himself more as an innocent victim. Or let’s say that the implication is that the he may make his mistakes in the relationship sometimes, but the addressee is more akin to a serial abuser.
And this is something that Joshua isn’t realizing until now, that this individual has changed – if you will – and become a bad person. And we can presume that it’s a romantic interest since the vocalist states this person is “not the love that (he) fell for”, with the term ‘falling in love’ being one almost exclusively related to romance.
So it’s like now, he doesn’t want to deal with him or her anymore.
Please “Set Me Free”
And the self-pitying continues into the second verse. The way the vocalist describes himself emotionally, most generally explained, makes it appear as if he is brokenhearted. And the implication is not that he got dumped. Rather, the addressee was treating him so bad that he had no choice but to cut this person off.
But on another level, it’s as if his emotional dependency on said individual remains intact. So that is why Joshua is like ‘set me free’, as in he doesn’t want the person to even try to contact him. And that’s because if so, due to his love for the addressee he is likely to let him or her back into his life and perpetuate the cycle of being victimized by this person he still loves.
So even if this piece was inspired by Bassett being the victim of sexual abuse, by the time all is said and done it is presented a lot like your traditional romantic heartbreak song.
So if we were to take it that “Crisis/Secret/Set Me Free” is a trilogy all dealing with the same addressee, then the story would read as so. Joshua dated this person and was truly in love. However, his genuine affection was rather met by something like serial abuse.
And the most blatant way that abuse was manifested was via the addressee cheating on him. And all things considered, it would be relatively easy to conclude that said addressee is Olivia Rodrigo, but such is not to be taken for granted. For example, we have to presume that Joshua has had other past romantic interests beside Rodrigo, considering for instance that he recently came out as gay.
So even if he is singing about Olivia in “Crisis”, it may not be so in “Set Me Free”. And if that is the case, that all of these songs are not about the same person, then that would explain some of the minute inconsistencies between them.
But conclusively, what is more apparent is that Joshua is using his most recent project, including “Set Me Free”, to highlight how he has been mistreated by one or more loved ones. And there is a permeating (sub)theme of breakup throughout.
So let’s conclude our analysis by saying that Bassett, who is only 20 years old at the time, knows how it feels to have his heart broken. Moreover, he’s humble enough to just take it like if need be. But if the person who broke his heart proceeds to try to capitalize off of their relationship or continues their abusive behavior towards Joshua, then at some point he has to draw the line.
Joshua Bassett talks about “Set Me Free”
According to Joshua, this song is for himself and everyone out there who have been victims of abuse.
Release of “Set Me Free”
This track is part of Joshua’s “Crisis/Secret/Set Me Free” EP. This EP is officially Joshua’s second after he dropped a self-titled extended play, “Joshua Bassett”, earlier in 2021.
“Set Me Free” was officially released on 3 December 2021 with the backing of Warner Records. The song came out alongside “Crisis” and “Secret”.
Joshua Bassett wrote this song with two other songwriters:
- Katelyn Tarver
- Davis Naish
Naish, a musician from Nashville, also produced the track.
Joshua is a Californian singer/actor who made a name for himself via a Disney+ series entitled High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. The show began airing in 2019. As of the release date of “Set Me Free”, it is heading into its third season.
His co-star on the show is one Olivia Rodrigo. Olivia dropped a hit track entitled “Drivers License” in 2021. Many people believe that the song is addressed to Joshua. So that set off a series of event where a number of response tracks have also been dropped, with “Crisis / Secret / Set Me Free” theoretically being part of that continuity also.