Hannah Frances may have created her album Lady in a small New York apartment but the album delivers a wide open, vast experience. A lot of sweet, sentimental touches reside in the music and lyrics. The underlying theme I heard was sentimental value. All of the moments she’s illustrating are heavy with meaning to her personally.
The music is pretty bare bones, however the production laid on top is unique and really helps the album stand out from anything I’ve heard. As I said, there’s a wide-open feel to her sound that comes through with specific audio choices that were made. There’s a huge amount of echo utilized, but it was never obnoxious.
She pulls this ballsy move with the first track “Dark Green Pt. 1” which is purely instrumental. The sensation I got from this track was a nature hike. I could smell pine trees and visualize a thick green forest for miles. I adore her ability to transport me.
Frances has a lovely voice in the way that it’s a bit subdued and yet very powerful. She doesn’t need to belt to get her points across, however she can stick to a note like glue and really give it wings. She does fall into a set rhythm with how she likes to deliver her words. This rhythm is a little too permanent of a resident and for me, it left the album a bit too monotone for my taste.
The monotone issue is not due to vocals alone. I believe it resides in overall format choices. Tracks like “Sand” and “Glass of Roses” should not have been anywhere near each other. I literally did not know I had moved on to the next track. Even with the added instruments which included things like cello, harmonica and piano, there just wasn’t enough distinguishing characteristics in the songs. She throws more interludes and instrumental work in the album and I realize she may not be suited for traditional album format.
I listened again, letting the barriers between tracks kind of fade away and what I got was almost like a symphony. Digesting the tracks as more of a gentle glide. Allowing more time, I really feel Frances has instincts that are suited to longer movements. You get a glimpse of what she’s capable of with length when you listen to the second track “Sand” which is just north of six-and-a-half minutes and is really beautiful. I found myself being able to pull in all the other tracks to that point and it was delightful. It’s a rare thing to maintain engagement for more than five minutes and I think she should use that talent to her advantage.
The title for the album Lady is perfect. This is a decidedly feminine album and not because it’s delicate or “soft.” Because she is fearless when it comes to conveying things like vulnerability and naivety. I would like to mention that all this complexity comes from a young woman who is only 20 years old. As they say, age is just a number, as Frances is already a legitimate storyteller.
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