CONTEST: If I was in your shoes I’d live a little
The most interesting thing about Hannah Georgas’ new self-titled album may be the sensory dichotomy that she has created with most of the songs.
The critically-lauded Vancouver singer and songwriter is pushing her music towards a more tangible electronic element on her second full-length record. In an interview with Exclaim! magazine she explained the goal was to bring her own musical sound more in line with her personal tastes. Several of the songs on Hannah Georgas reflect the electronic music she’s loved and listened to for years, though there’s still a fairly hard line separating those aural expansions from her more traditional rock band set-up. Some of the folks playing on this record were also involved with Erin Passmore’s solo debut, I believe, and I think there’s a good correlation between the two. The mix on both records is packed full of myriad sounds and instruments, the electronic elements being a new and welcome addition.
Those sounds and textures are made the centerpieces of several of the songs on this album, occasionally making up the only elements outside of Gerogas’ voice. My assumption is that producer Graham Walsh (Holy Fuck) deserves a good amount of credit for that. The two form opener “Elephant” very well, establishing a slow pulsing tone and a buried beat that fill the mix more and more as Georgas’ vocals slide in, wrapped in a chilled reverb. Even chillier are the lyrics, as Georgas expresses her maturing realization that she won’t live forever and she wants to fall in love while she still can. Digital-sounding, distortion-heavy synths wash up in increasingly-aggressive waves around her as the song progresses to its zenith. “Enemies” is similarly structured in some ways, opening up with the slow fade in of electronic percussion and a programmed key line. Huge-sounding, digitally-distorted drums carry a lithe beat through the song. In both cases the electronics are used to create a tonal isolation of sorts; Georgas seems alone in the world, even as she’s addressing someone directly. It’s a sharp contrast to the almost uniformly organic and mostly upbeat tenor of her previous full-length.
As mentioned, however, her aesthetic does bounce around a fair bit on the album with traditional rock elements taking the forefront on a number of songs. The delightful lyrical kiss-off of “Somebody” is carried through with primarily live instruments, while “Robotic” melds the two separate palates with some melodic synths in the chorus to complement the electric guitars. Both are, again, more sombre numbers; on the former Georgas casts off a dick she’s been seeing by telling him that she hopes he gets a taste of his own medicine someday. The latter sees Georgas delivering a motivational speech to herself, insisting she has to be tougher, only to lament on the chorus that she wants to “push the reset.”
After a cooler start to the record a number of more up-beat numbers pop up in the track list that show Georgas’ sense of humour and abandon, like “Shortie.” Flipping the pop music trope of going out to the club on its head Georgas pursues a male “shortie” and seeks to make him her “boo.” She professes, “I’m not a player, not a hater, I’m a lover and I want your loving,” and then promises to dance until the cops come. The track is a cooly-produced, half-time electronic number that boasts a dance-y, muted guitar line through the second half. “Millions” follows in a similar vein, a thread of vaguely-ironic humour masking Georgas’ not-so-secret desires. The upbeat rock and roll song sees her professing her intention to make a million bucks, asking why she can’t do it if some other unnamed chanteuse can. The second verse suggests the song might be a response to Georgas’ own doubts about her chosen career (or her mothers, depending on how you read it). Cooing vocals and sassy synths trade off a catchy melody in the bridge, a nice detail that matches the song’s quicker pace well.
Georgas’ mother pops up again later on the album’s stand-out track, “Ode To Mom.” The lyrics read like advice given in a moment of regret or longing.
If I were in your shoes I’d live a little and I’d love with all this lust, forget the worst, forget the scars. And I’d be a little selfish, less selfless, less harsh. Yeah, I would. And I’d go out once in a while, flash my curves, show ‘em style and I’d turn this whole town upside down. Yeah, I would.
The words are delivered in a casual, almost muted tone, Georgas almost reluctantly offering a heart-breaking minor key melody. Softly plucked electric guitar shadows the melody until full-chord strums and piano join in. Drums are placed high in the mix as the chorus comes in and some digital noise fills in the gaps as the track comes to a head. Everything falls away just before Georgas meekly posits, “If there is magic on this planet it’s in the water; if there is magic on this planet it’s in my blood,” at the song’s end, leaving only some spare piano notes to reflect her seemingly-pained expression. It’s a song as open wound, the kind of achingly-confessional number that some singers couldn’t write if they tried.
That’s really the heart of Hannah Georgas and, I expect, Hannah Georgas. This record seems like solid evidence that she’s a musician whose inspiration is explicit and direct; she’s not peddling metaphor after metaphor or couching her songs in fiction. This is a glimpse into the mind and heart of an extremely talented young lady. Her confessional nature may not appeal to everyone but the array of sounds compiled her is at least enough to keep anyone interested. Georgas has sass, desire, and honesty to spare and it makes for a pretty thrilling listen. This one is highly recommended.
And better yet — if you’d like your own copy of Hannah Georgas you can get one by entering our draw! She’s out on tour right now and her label Dine Alone Records has pressed the album on 180 gram black vinyl and teal vinyl and they’ve been kind enough to provide us with copies to give away! Just tweet me at @soundsalvation and on the 15th we’ll pick ourselves a winner!
If you’d rather buy her albums than win one you can check out her web store, Dine Alone’s, or iTunes for digital. Zunior has her older stuff as well. You can still catch Georgas on tour with fellow Vancouverites Mother Mother for the next couple of weeks.
December 4, 2012 / Burton Cummings Theatre – Winnipeg, MB
December 5, 2012 / Odeon Events Centre – Saskatoon, SK
December 6, 2012 / Edmonton Event Centre – Edmonton, AB
December 7, 2012 / Edmonton Event Centre – Edmonton, AB
December 8, 2012 / Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium – Calgary, AB
December 10, 2012 / Average Joes – Lethbridge, AB
December 11, 2012 / The Royal – Nelson, BC
December 12, 2012 / Clarke Theatre – Mission, BC
December 13, 2012 / Royal Theatre – Victoria, BC
December 15, 2012 / Cowichan Theatre – Duncan, BC
December 16, 2012 / Port Theatre – Nanaimo, BC
December 17, 2012 / Tidemark Theatre – Campbell River, BC
December 19, 2012 / Orpheum Theatre – Vancouver, BC