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Monday, February 2, 2015

Live Hart - Honesty

Live Hart – Honesty
2014, Goin’ Native Records

New Jersey-born singer/songwriter Live Hart cut her musical teeth as a member of pop group Urbanesque, but her primary focus has always been that of a singer/songwriter.  This aesthetic is wholly evident on Live Hart’s debut solo album, Honesty.  Hart weaves intricate tales and soundscapes throughout the ten songs on the album, with a dulcet voice and an intensely melodic musicality.  A soulful R&B influence in inherent in Hart’s sound, but her muse comes first, and listeners are the one to benefit. 

Honesty opens with a touch of Latin soul and pop in the form of “I’m Gone”.  The groove here is tremendous, and Hart’s voice is delicious ear candy.  It’s a brilliant open with significant chart possibilities.  Hart changes gears for “New Day”, utilizing cascading vocal layers to beautiful effect.  In spite of the difference in sound, the net effect is the same, a brilliant pop turn you won’t be able to get out of your head.  Hart digs into a stripped down sound on “Take Me” that grows into a vibrant folk/rock gem.  The chorus here is perfect pop radio, full of honest life and intensity and a tasty pop hook. 

“Please Don’t Say It’s Over” is a quietly pleading pop number that’s infectious in its rhythm and sound.  The most integral component here is Live Hart’s honey-tinged voice, dulcet and warm in tone and timbre.  She manages to navigate the corridors of pop music with a grace and class that allows her rise above the pack.  On “We Can Change the World” Live Hart takes a more generic path to a politically correct, socially activist message.   This is a popular and thoroughly overdone message in pop culture.  As a result, efforts in this direction need to be wildly original or extremely well done to stand out.  Neither is the case here.

Hart turns the corner on “Lala”, a quietly brilliant love song written from the perspective of gratefulness and grace.  The melody here is a thing of beauty, as live shares a moment of true intimacy with listeners.  “This Is Me” seems to grow out of “Lala”, but musically and generationally.  The same pop sensibility is there, but there is a slow growth in intensity and energy between the two.  Hart returns to a stripped down, guitar-driven arrangement for “What Is Love”, a musical-slow boat that grows into a low-key R&B gem.  Once again, it’s Hart’s voice that is the key driver here, but the entire piece is full of an esoteric beauty that is impossible to ignore.  “Summer Love” steps into a keener pop/rock sound and borrows its opening line (lyrically and musically) from John Waite.  Hart’s mix of pop sensibility and singer/songwriter aesthetic serves her well once again.  Honesty closes with “Release”, playing on the edges of popular hip-hop styles and essentially surrendering the unique high ground Live Hart spent the first nine songs of the album carving out.  This is a solid piece of writing, but it is by far the weakest track on the album.

Live Hart flashes brilliance on Honesty, with the sort of voice you just close your eyes and let wash over you.  Her songwriting has depth, and she blends that with a brilliant folk/pop sensibility that gets inside your head.  Honesty isn’t just a title but a mantra, and Hart lives it to the fullest.  This album should establish Live Hart as a songwriting and performing force to be reckoned with. 

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

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You can purchase Honesty via iTunes or Amazon.

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