Hannah Ayrault – Me Right Now
Hannah Ayrault successfully carves out a niche for herself with the debut Me Right Now EP. She rejects the facile pop stylings of Swift, Perry, et al, in favor of orchestral pop influences and an almost classical bent. She incorporates elements of the singer/songwriter genre into her music as well and, to a certain extent, seems to take her cues from performers like Regina Spektor in this area. The songwriting has unique sensitivities fueled by plainspoken lyrical content that shows remarkable insight and emotional depth. Piano is the dominant instrument on the EP, but a variety of sounds make their way into the mix for often interesting results.
The opening track “Me Right Now” moves gracefully thanks to beautiful piano playing and a lush string section, but the focal point is rightly Ayrault’s vocal and direct, eloquent lyrical content. She writes quite well about the critical point in all young lives when the circles of our childhood break and we find ourselves standing as adults for the first time. Personal relationships form the crux of the next two songs, “Mine” and “Stay”. The first marries modern tempos to what sounds like was a folk tune of a sort in its original incarnation. The contrast between the restless rhythms and straightforward six-string work creates an interesting hybrid and Ayrault’s superior phrasing helps push the track over the top. The latter song focuses again on the acoustic guitar, but it’s much more melodic than its predecessor is and contains one of Ayrault’s finest vocals.
The finest vocal on the album comes with the penultimate track, “New York, I Love You”. Ayrault deftly guides listeners through a vocal alternating between tender regret and outright yearning. Her voice matches the piano playing quite well and the combination lends the track an almost ethereal, effervescent quality. The album’s final track, “So Close So Far”, is reminiscent of the opener thanks to its use of a string section, but the strings merely provide some welcome color. The true beauty of the track comes, once again, from the aching marriage of Ayrault’s vocals and piano playing.
Me Right Now could have benefitted from an added track, preferably something in an uptempo vein, but as it stands, this is a fine debut. Ayrault shows a slightly surprising amount of diversity and should be roundly applauded for her refusal to imitate other performers overtly. She has carved out an identity for herself with this release, but her stylistic fluency is such that she’ll never be beholden to any particular mode of songwriting. Hannah Ayrault is a talent in full bloom and anyone who falls in love with this release should keep an eye out for her future work.
8 out of 10 stars.