Nineteen year old Detroit native Hannah Ayrault’s debut release, Me Right Now, clearly owes more to the Regina Spektor school of young female performers than Kelly Clarkson and her ilk, but that doesn’t mean the EP’s five songs aren’t brimming over with can’t-miss pop sensibilities. Ayrault has a pleasing, emotive voice with fine range and does herself one better by writing strong, accessible lyrics. The production is sterling. While it naturally showcases Ayrault and her assorted skills, the recording has sonic depth and maintains a striking balance between various instruments. There is no outright pop product on Me Right Now, but the abundance of melodic content and rich harmonies has obvious commercial appeal.
“Me Right Now” starts things off well with its blatantly autobiographical slant and beautifully elegant piano playing. The drumming is perfect. The percussion varies between dramatic, hard-hitting passages and more restrained sections and it’s a contrast that helps imbue the title song with considerable dynamics. Ayrault loves wide-screen choruses and certainly scores here – it’s rather exhilarating to hear the song explode in such a vivid and musical way. “Mine” is built around energetic acoustic guitar and a simple backbeat, but it’s enough of a forum for Ayrault to explore her range. The sheer emotional power pushing her vocal gives this track tremendous passion well juxtaposed against the slightly minimalist arrangement. The acoustic guitar on “Stay” is much more lyrical than on the previous track. It signals a transition from the more outright commercial intentions of the EP’s first two songs into deeper, more vulnerable ballads. The song has a foot in two camps – on one hand, the mid tempo pace keeps it firmly in the pop realm while the song’s vulnerability gives it a strongly balladic aspect. Ayrault’s harmonies and double tracked vocals are never overdone and “Stay” is no exception.
“New York, I Love You” returns Ayrault’s musical focus to the piano. It’s an excellent fit for her song to New York City and imbues the track with lyrical grandeur, but the drumming once again distinguishes itself by giving the song a dramatic pulse. The EP’s concluding number, “So Far So Close”, has the same melodic richness distinguishing the earlier tracks and a lush string arrangement deepening its musical merits. Ayrault delivers a final spellbinding vocal every bit as beautiful and moving as her earlier efforts.
Me Right Now is an impressive debut with wide ranging musical and vocal strengths. Ayrault proves herself an adept singer early on in the release and the remaining songs only reinforce her talents. There’s an inescapable feeling listening to these songs that, as fine as they are, Ayrault is scratching the surface of her capabilities and ambitions. There’s talent here extending far beyond her years and, barring the unforeseen, Ayrault’s path towards greater renown is clear.
9 out of 10 stars.