Hannah Ayrault – Me Right Now
Hannah Ayrault has tailored her debut to make an impression. She succeeds on that score, but it will be easy for some to spin through her five song EP Me Right Now and feel like things are incomplete somehow. To her credit, the debut resists even an inkling of self-indulgence and keeps things focused, but five songs feels like a relatively paltry initial offering. This sense of half measure won’t prevent listeners from enjoying what Ayrault has recorded – far from it. Me Right Now contains some of the most inventive quasi-orchestral pop heard in many years and one of the biggest reasons why is Ayrault’s willingness to incorporate unexpected instrumentation. The EP makes a mark, but it’s a glancing blow rather than a clarion call heralding the arrival of a major new talent.
She plays one of her highest cards first. The title track is a string-laden slice of ornate pop with high melodic value and entertaining vocal pyrotechnics. Despite Ayrault’s obvious skill, she never over sings; if anything, she seems to take great care with the lyrics. Her piano playing is an important musical element on the EP and its inclusion here helps strength the track’s musicality. “Mine” veers away from the style heard on the title track and embraces six-string acoustic guitar primarily. The fat chords give the track a different sort of foundation than heard elsewhere on Me Right Now. Percussion plays an important role in helping the track stand apart and the restless rhythms propelling this song are quite memorable. “Stay” has a stronger, even ethereal, melody that Ayrault matches with a particularly sensitive vocal. Her phrasing is a delight that helps familiar subject matter go down better, but it’s how Ayrault wraps her voice around the beautiful acoustic guitar that makes this song stand out.
Ayrault surprises listeners again with “New York, I Love You”. What might seem, at first impression, to be a musical love letter directed at the Big Apple quickly reveals itself to be a far more personal tune. Elegant piano and assertive percussion drive the track, but it’s Ayrault’s voice that’s the star once again. There’s yearning and heartbreak in equal measure here and she expresses it with sure-eyed confidence and skill. The EP’s finale “So Close So Far” is a formidable closer with more half-classical inclinations. The string section and lyrical piano never, however, interfere with the pure pop melodies and enchanting vocal.
We just needed more of it. This is closer to a sampler than a full-on release, but it does give us a tantalizing look into Ayrault’s capabilities as a vocalist and songwriter. The accompaniment is top shelf and there’s an astonishing sense of control over the material remarkable for any performer, but particularly someone as young as Hannah Ayrault. Me Right Now is a pleasing, if unnecessarily modest, debut.
8 out of 10 stars.