Album Review: Emily Hearn – Hourglass – Sweet vocals and nostalgic storytelling

Following her 2012 album Paper Heart, Emily Hearn recently released the more sophisticated and pop-like Hourglass. The 24 year-old musician has been on a rather high profile music radar, receiving rave reviews almost everywhere. Hourglass is an airy and rhythmic arrangement of Hearn’s arching and sweet vocals, nostalgic story telling, and experimental instruments- from acoustic tracks and chimes to piano and drum driven choruses.

Deliberately creating a blissful atmosphere, opening tracks and album favorites “Wake Up Again” and “Can’t Help Myself” set the album’s uplifting harmonies with a bouncy pace, bright lyrics, and a simple backdrop- featuring an acoustic guitar and faint chimes to make for a catchy beat through commercial pop and heartwarming anthems like “We’ve got to go, we got to get back, we got to get the spring back in our step again”. The pop sound doesn’t last very long, and slowly transitions to rather heart-wrenching lyrics and somber sounds in which Hearn tackles deeper topics in tracks “Thank God You’re Holding Me” and “Give It Up”.

I can’t quite label the album as one sound. Some tracks are folk infused, others show hints of bluegrass, and at times choruses sound like something left out of a Taylor Swift album. Hourglass resembles singer/songwriters from Madi Diaz, Natasha Bedingfield and Colbie Caillat to country star Carrie Underwood. While her sound points in many different directions, it works for Hearn and somehow flows together to make for a well-crafted and cohesive album. The twelve-track release is warm and inviting, featuring an eclectic range of sounds from country, pop, and even jazz. The entire album may not be for everyone, but listeners are bound to find one or two tracks that resonate with their tastes.

Hearn is a very talented musician and I’m sure we will hear a lot more from the singer/songwriter. The entire album is radio ready and I expect to hear tracks “Volcano” and “Don’t Take My Love” on TV- an avenue not new to Hearn as her songs have been featured in a dozen placements from commercials, movies and TV shows on MTV, ABC Family and a recent Ben & Jerry’s commercial.

It’s an unexpected rollercoaster of an album, complete with wistful lyrics and fluctuating harmonies. Hourglass fills a void you never realized you were looking for- an almost dependable enthusiasm to add to your music routine.

Regardless of your music tastes, Hearn’s voice is one to hear.

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