Hannah Georgas (Dine Alone Records, 2012)
Produced by Graham Walsh
Reviewed by Chris Ho
Yet again, Hannah Georgas gives us that middle ground between accessibility and originality in her songwriting. And although this is what initially earned her Vancouver’s love and respect, it only accounts for a mere fraction of the impeccable craftsmanship that her newest album embodies.
Hannah Georgas opens with a soft, pulsing synth. A distant electronic kick drum slowly creeps in and almost throws off the rhythm for a moment as she laments, “You’re off kilter with me.” The instrumental representation of the lyrics instantly establishes the long anticipated marriage between the electronic synth and the heartfelt singer. It reassures the listener that there is purpose to the supportive synthetic gems, and more importantly, to the words that Georgas sings. But while the assumption might be that an increasingly electronic influence will make an album more “upbeat,” this is not necessarily the case for Hannah Georgas.
The production of the album stays true to the dark lyrics that seem to reflect back on a past, all-consuming kind of love. It instrumentally mirrors that emotional place where we find ourselves distraught, frustrated, and yet determined to move forward with our lives. This is best represented in “Somebody,” where the punchy bass line and drum beat drive the song as Georgas sings, “I know you don’t know what you do / what you do to me / but it hurts like hell.” The album locks into that groove that makes it a suitable “car jam,” but it doesn’t fully dive into the alt-pop dance realm that might be comparable to MGMT.
While the temptation of over-producing and cluttering an electronic album of this nature might be challenging for some, Graham Walsh and Hannah Georgas make it seem like a walk in the park. The minimalist guitar work and synth support result in an incredibly tasteful album, which is at the same time simple and complex. And if this wasn’t already the main highlight for me, then it would have to be its song order and flow.
The first and last tracks give the album a cinematic feel because of how well they portray the carefully plotted introduction and ending, through the use of plush instrumentation paired with artistically adept songwriting. You can practically see the rolling credits as the final track, “Waiting Game,” begins to play, renewing that familiar feeling of Hollywood-movie hopefulness.
Hannah Georgas performs Saturday, August 31 at Whistler Olympic Plaza, Whistler BC.
Chris Ho is a UVic graduate and Victoria-based singer-songwriter.