The mood of Hannah & Maggie‘s album ‘Muscle & Bone’ was set in the first lines of the first song, ”As You Wake”. This album is rife with delicate finger picking and dreamy vocals, but it kicks off a cappella, with perfectly tight harmonies that serve to illustrate the theme of togetherness through the good and bad that perseveres through the album. “As You Wake” is an homage to the tender moments when everything is warm and familiar in bed with a loved one, before the world comes knocking at the door to interrupt—if only we had a little more time in the day everything would be easier, but instead we have to work with what we get. “Give me twenty more minutes in the day/and I’ll write poetry and songs to blow you away/but I guess for now/I’ll just work with the seasons as they change.”
“Burlington, VT” adds flair to the album, with playful vocals paired with undertones of cello and highlights of horn. Lyrically, this song is like montage of time passing no matter how hard you try to hold on: snippets like “smoke and lavender keeping every single sound/dream a way to get back but wake not knowing how” and “around this table night will leave us/summer’s gone, did someone count the days wrong?” are remarkably easy to relate to for anyone who has tried to cling to moments.
Five songs in, the heart takes a hit with “Sara”, and it breaks a bit: “Hold your tongue and listen/this still hurts/certain I’ll wake and be fine/cause I’m a baby sleeping/so step like the snow/and leave me one half of what’s mine.” Hauntingly reminiscent of love gone wrong, Hannah and Maggie’s skilled harmonics breathe melancholia through this notably more somber track, demonstrating the depth this album has to offer.
The standout track for me personally was “Brighton Beach”—it has stunning musical intricacies that drew me in quickly, and the melody is more complex than other tracks, which really brings the song to life. The vocals are full of soul and serve to exemplify a lyrical narrative rich with imagery and emotion. The song as a whole represents so many experiences—nostalgia, uncertainty, hopes and introspection are interwoven throughout. It invokes feelings that make the heart ache: “Ancient homes and cobblestones/we found them here where no one knows/it isn’t good to drink alone/that’s how I’ll remember this/which only goes to show/I’m counting every eyelet on the boots that I wore/praying maybe somehow I can drag my feet up north.”
This album manages to break down the elements of relationships into the barest form: muscle and bone. It is exquisite—a journey through the human experience of love, complete with ups, downs, and in-betweens. Just when you’re smiling in the simplicity of love’s bliss, your stomach suddenly drops as you’re reminded of the inherent angst that’s necessary in the path to joy. Even the worst feelings are still pretty when sung with the delicacy that Hannah and Maggie offer. The melodies overall are simple and mellow but effective, especially when paired with truly skilled emotive writing. As a whole, ‘Muscle & Bone’ is truly appropriately named—it is bare and raw, and it celebrates those parts inside of us that make us move.
Kori Shearer is born, raised, and still living in southwestern PA. Her musical tastes run fairly wild, but she has a big soft spot for lyrical flow, harmonies, and fingerpicking. Armed with a passion for creating, Kori constantly tries to find new ways to enrich the world around her through words, art, and music. She can also be found co-blogging at www.curiouscompendia.com.