Published Jun 19, 2019Tension is a force that pushes and pulls, a hole that can open up inside, needing to be patched with delicate care. Merival (Toronto-based singer-songwriter Anna Horvath) knows this, and she knows that tension always leads to release. These are the themes that she leads with on Lesson, her debut full-length.
In the time since releasing her acclaimed 2016 EP, Lovers, Merival has collaborated with some of Toronto's most exciting artists, including Swim Good Now, and Born Ruffians' Luke Lalonde. The record finds strength in tethering songs to established conventions. "Sinner" holds a touch of Atlantic folk to give the expansive track a sense of desperation. "Good Enough Again" is just as grand, and rises cinematically, crashing against the dreamier, steady tracks that come before and after. The waltz pace of "No Brakes" swirls with flourishes — the chaotic breaks offering freshness in the face of the familiar.
When Merival moves into experimental space, it is often with the result of bringing the interior outside. "Planting a Garden" has an off-kilter rhythm that thematically adds to the ennui. "Kind of Like the Wind" brings back distant vocals and an emphasis on mood-over-hook that album opener "Miles" brandished, completing a satisfying circle, though one that loses some of the intensity that sustained through the middle.
Lesson features delicate songs with rich internal explorations as well as songs that swerve with a sense of unruliness — proving to be as complicated and thoughtful an entity as the songwriter herself. (Independent)