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Hannah Telle Emits A “Hollow Glow” For Us This Fall

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Hollow Glow is the debut album of actress and musician, Hannah Telle. Telle is a North Carolina native who moved out to Los Angeles in pursuit of her career; since 2008 she’s had numerous feature length and short film roles, as well as television appearances. She learned how to play the guitar, initially, for a role but saw making music

as a therapeutic exercise to alleviate depression – finding in it creative freedom and herself. Telle’s teacher and producer, Ben Schwab, started recording demos of her during her lessons learning the guitar, eventually making those songs into her first record.  

Telle’s Hollow Glow is an album of melancholy and pretty sounds layered by lyrics of love, self, and emptiness. There’s a number of highlights on here, showcasing the actress’ presence as a very promising musician. The often acoustic instrumentals shine truly bright, painting the perfect picture for this folky, dream pop record.  

The first half of the album is melodic and easy going; Telle, for the most part, knows her strengths and knows how to use the qualities that make her unique, defining her own sound on this project. Hazy vocals, emotional lyrics, and smooth chords work well for her. The opening track “Never Done” sets the mood for the album. The country backdrop is a great sound for Telle and lends a hand to the narrative of endlessness and tedium delivered by her. Also “Happy Birthday” stuck out to me, it had noticeable progression, a beautiful bridge with a strumming bass, and the lyrics are captivating.

By the second half we start to see Telle venture into new territory with records like  “Hurricanes” and “Don’t Want to Lose It” – easily my favorite songs on the album. I have so much appreciation for the late 50’s-60’s rock ballads that these songs embody, (these songs could of easily made their way onto the Grease soundtrack), and Telle is right at home in this sound. What makes them so great are their structures and instrumentation. “Hurricanes” has a nice bass guitar and synth crescendo; Telle delivers soft staccato singing leading up to the chorus, which has some of the best lyrics on the whole album: “But you are the one I adore/ Always and forever more/ We’ll sail this ship … through the storm.” “Don’t Want to Lose It” takes you away with its lovely electric guitar riffs, mesmerizing keys, and booming bass percussion, coupled with nice vocal dynamics. It was saddening for these songs to have to end.

While generally I found the album pretty good for a debut, it is not without its hiccups. And one area where it falls flat is in its repetitiveness. By Track 7 I heard most of what the album had to offer, and the repetition of production and unemotional vocals did not keep me completely engrossed and wanting me to finish the whole work. It’s easy to hear Telle’s talents and ear for musicality, but some techniques are overused. Almost one third of the 43 minute record are songs that consist of “Dust in the Wind”-inspired arpeggios; and – the only exception being “More Like Her” – all those songs are lacking or just not up to par.

The lead single and title song, “Hollow Glow” is crippled by its vague lyrics and overuse of apathetic singing that often goes unheard, drowning in the acoustic guitar. The refrain that begins at 2:09 is the weakest vocal performance on the album. Telle tries here to dip further into her head register, but it doesn’t sound as if she fully can just yet; it just sounds uncomfortable.

“In My Mind” suffers from most of the same things as “Hollow Glow.” The song started out just fine – the first verse is well done lyrically and it features a faint violin harmonizing with the vocals, distracting me enough from the umpteenth acoustic arpeggio, but unfortunately that’s about all the praise I can give this song. Vocally and instrumentally it was stagnant, the sound didn’t go anywhere and neither did the singing; the track got old quickly.  And the lyrical quality that I enjoyed disappeared and was substituted with audibly dull, throw away lyrics like, “You – you can’t hide/ I love you/ In my mind.” The album didn’t need this song honestly, it could have done without it; this only highlighted the overlying grievance I had about the project.  

In the future Telle might want to focus on making a collective effort and produce a well rounded whole album. The fact of the matter is that the mostly good song by song performances are standalone and doesn’t make for a narrative or complete body of music. The album itself is not structured as opposed to most of the songs; a lot of the first half is weak and the ending track is not the best. A third of the album really does hinders her and takes away from the rest. Though, I can say that the majority of what’s in Hollow Glow is really worth listening to. It’s undeniable that Hannah Telle has amazing talent; a lot of the songs are great individually and I do recommend this record to indie-folk lovers and definitely to Hannah Telle fans. I am looking forward to her next project and her growth as an artist.

 

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Clint Zephirin

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