What a difference a year (or two) makes eh….you see, Phoebe Hurst was knocking it out of the park with some live-looping videos and performances. And then her hard-fought Lessons EP just didn’t (for me) quite cut it; the weakness was in the arrangements and lyrics. That voice is great – but it’s a familiar trap, just not having all that much to say. And in aiming for a contemporary production/band sound she toppled over into sounding actually quite dated.
Well, that’s all been remedied, maybe the best move is being able to hide (deeper) inside the music. Here she is HUNTER and this is the HUNTER EP – it’s Phoebe’s voice and songs, but co-conspirator/collaborator Micah Livesay helps these songs to breathe by releasing them from tight band arrangements. Keys and synth stabs and drum programming is the order of the day (for the most part) and on the sparsely titled tunes – Body, Run, Still, Enough – Hurst has found she has plenty to say. And new ways to say it.
We’re talking just 13 minutes here and, well, I seem to be saying this all the time (again) lately, but why not just release the very best quarter-hour you have rather than a half-hour that stumbles occasionally or an hour that ends up plodding.
HUNTER EP surges and pulses and strobes from the opener (Body) to the closer (Enough). And it’s a big build. Subtle and all about the voice when we start, the instruments and arrangements pick up and piece themselves together, stapling themselves to the tunes as the EP progresses. By the time of the closing cut we have the R’n’B world of Beyonce’s self-titled debut as appropriated by Anika Moa on her most recent album, though far more successful.
HUNTER EP is a brief journey, but heartfelt, honest, hopeful. And there’s a lot to unpack from these songs.
Ultimately, a huge step in the right direction. Playing to the strength of the voice – and finding that by stripping back a new depth can be discovered.