Merival “Lesson” (Merival Records, 2019)

From Toronto comes the debut album from Merival, aka Anna Horvath, though to say album is a bit of a stretch at less than 25 minutes, with some of the 8 tracks being barely songs. Horvath called the album ‘Lesson’ as “thematically, the idea of self-exploration and learning underpins the record, a glimpse into a world under construction”. Unfortunately, Horvath’s musical style is also under construction, and some of the tracks could be seen as atmospheres rather than songs, emotion and expression very evident, but a frustrating listen.

Opening track ‘Miles’ is an irksome start, where her faux-naif voice whispers nothings over bare acoustic. The Marissa Nadler/ Joanna Newson etc field is overfull with such an approach, and the decision to over-amp the finger sliding between notes on her acoustic strings just puts teeth on edge. Following straight on is ‘Sinner’, where her voice is an octave down, strong clear and confident and backed by a full band arrangement. The best track on the album, it’s also the most conventional, and a proper song. What comes after could be viewed as either purposely delicate ambiences or unfocused noodling, until the penultimate track ‘Good Enough Again’, which again is a song with stronger vocal purpose and band.

You could choose to be beguiled by this album; there is clear promise in its alt-folk stylings, but the reality is that it is slight.

Slight alt-folk atmospheres
4/10

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