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Single Review: Carly Hanley – “Ooh La La”

Gilded notes glisten in the echo of a gentle melody that leads us into “Ooh La La,” the new single from pop songstress Carly Hanley. Like raindrops pelting against a solemn dry patch of earth, the melody slowly mellows the hardened, silent backdrop until everything is melting under the warm glow of Hanley’s voice. Lightning strikes as the drums enter focus; the smallest of details within the mix is amplified and given a platform to grab our attention, and not an inch of sonic space goes unutilized.

We descend into the clutches of Hanley, who takes us into her heart and invites us to stay as long as we want. Her love is transcendent; her words reach through the speakers and ask us to take them at more than face value. This is Hanley’s newest release, a worthy offering to the international pop music spectrum, and it isn’t an amateurish single from an inept rookie still figuring it all out. “Ooh La La” is a heartfelt piece from a songwriter who has a lot to share with us, and this is her epic introduction to the world at large.

This single is a lot less streamlined than what we’ve seen recently from Hanley’s rivals, but it isn’t willfully experimental or left-leaning by design.

The flow of the song is remarkably familiar, not unlike a lot of the vocal-driven fodder that alternative pop produced in the 2010s, but there’s a pointed, R&B-flavored sway to the delivery that makes it feel a lot more contemporary. If we break down the track to its skin and bones, it’s obvious that this song wasn’t written around a rhythm or even a precise melody, but rather its sharp lyricism, which acts as a compositional lynchpin in the eye of the storm.

Carly Hanley makes the words come to life before our very ears, giving each one its own color and unique identity within the verse it supports. The mood of the entire single is set by her conservative style of attack, which evenly distributes her tempered vocal across a bed of lush string grooves. I love that the drums don’t fire up until we get within the gravitational orbit of the chorus; it creates a pressurized tension that adds to the entire listening experience.

From what I hear in “Ooh La La,” there’s not a doubt in my mind that Carly Hanley could take charge of the stage in a live setting. With the vocal range that she possesses, I’m very interested to see how her powerful studio presence translates to the raw environment of a live gig, where the energy of a crowd can substantially increase the level of excitement and passion in any given performance. The future is wide open for Hanley as she moves forward, and she’s set the bar pretty high with this sizzling material.

A single that packs as much of an emotional punch as it does imprint a sultry melodic hook that isn’t easily forgotten, I highly recommend “Ooh La La” to music fans who are looking for a highbrow strain of pop to finish off of summer.

Curt Nicholson


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