Hannah Georgas - All That Emotion Music Album Reviews

Hannah Georgas - All That Emotion Music Album Reviews
Produced with the National’s Aaron Dessner, the introspective Canadian singer-songwriter’s stately fourth album evokes an atmosphere of quiet loveliness.

In 2009, Hannah Georgas wrote a song about hoping to run into an ex at a National concert. Like most of Georgas’s music, “The National” is both an internal monologue and an address, the things she thinks but would not say: “The other day someone mentioned your name/It brought back hurt and all your pain.” As the National became arena-rock stars, and the band’s Aaron Dessner a celebrated producer in his own right, Georgas found success in her home country of Canada, garnering multiple Juno Award nominations across three albums. In 2018, after a year spent recording demos alone, she and Dessner began to collaborate on a fourth. While the Dessner-ification erodes some of Georgas’s own artistic identity, All That Emotions is stately and well-made.
Dessner still produces with the intimacy of someone making music in their garage—it’s just that the garage is now an upstate New York barn whose exterior covers a Grammy-winning album, and the sound is usually recognizable as National-adjacent. Where Georgas’ lightly chaotic music previously matched her quirky lyrics about emotionless robots and naked beaches, Dessner submerges her words in soft drum machines and felt pianos, and Georgas tones down her performances to match. On “Just a Phase,” her melodies often anticipate or echo the guitar lines, content to blend into the sound. On opener “That Emotion,” the melodies are drawn-out and laconic, the delivery laid-back and unobtrusive.

The stylistic balance of the album tilts in Dessner’s favor, which can mean that All That Emotion sounds like Taylor Swift’s folklore sounds like Eve Owen’s Don’t Let the Ink Dry sounds like Trouble Will Find Me. The one-size-fits-all approach leads to the occasional clash, as on “Easy,” where Georgas’s modest soft-rock chorus sits awkwardly over fussy Dessner crescendos. Even then, Dessner and engineer Jonathan Low keep the production immersive enough that the discrepancies are easy to ignore. Georgas and Dessner’s most successful synthesis is tucked away at the end: “Habits” soars in a way that the rest of the album actively avoids. It’s still a classic slow build, but the harmonies and guitar squeals create the same feeling of intoxication that powers Dessner’s most lavish productions.

With Dessner handling the music, Georgas defines herself through her internal monologues. “I don’t want to hold on to you,” she sings on “Change,” positing that because “love is change,” there’s no reason to stay if a relationship becomes fraught. “Someone I Don’t Know” deepens the expected sentiment, willing an ex to become unrecognizable: “Someday I’ll get over you... You’ll become something I forgot.” “Punching Bag,” a song that somehow mixes the dread of Radiohead’s “Idioteque” with Alanis Morrissette’s garrulous “Front Row,” takes the tension to a logical extreme. Though Georgas sings about needing to “save” someone, the background lyrics reveal her ambivalence: “I take you for a walk to a place that means so much to me/And go for your hand to hold you and you pull away immediately.” It’s the only moment on the album that truly feels surprising.

By insisting on quiet loveliness in all aspects of its production, All That Emotion misses out on the weirder and more fascinating elements of Georgas’ older music. The Casio SK-1 Homestar Runner drums of “Bang Bang You’re Dead” or the distortion of “Enemies” would be welcome on this record. Though Emotion is refined, it also isn’t different from Dessner’s other production work—it’s still musically reticent, covered in fog. Its clarity originates in Georgas’ ability to process what she’s feeling, and spending 40 minutes in her head as she figures things out doesn’t feel suffocating. There’s always just enough reason, an poignant insight or an intricate guitar line, to stay.
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Hannah Georgas - All That Emotion Music Album Reviews Hannah Georgas - All That Emotion Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Saturday, September 19, 2020 Rating:

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