Pieces Of Night is the impressive debut album from Ipswich’s Hannah Scott. Across eight songs she delivers a record with emotional depth and clarity that showcases many sides to her voice and different approaches to the art of songwriting without losing sight of having a message and a tune for the listener to connect to.
“Breathless, here at the edge of reason, are we the only dreamers ever to come this way?” is the opening line of the album’s opener and title track and sets the scene for eight tracks that take an acutely observed look at the human condition. It’s a song of searching for solutions to the often unanswerable questions of life, concluding that “we are alive, we are pieces of the night.”
Weight Of The World is a song of encouragement to use “the strength of your nerve, the power of your sentiment” to lift yourself out of a dark place. A simple unfussy production means that, like the rest of the album, the instrumentation doesn’t clutter the song but provides the canvas for Hannah’s evocative heartfelt vocals. Clever use of harmonies also act to accentuate the genuine warmth that radiates from the lyrics.
Hearth Of My Home ups the pace, nodding towards the dancefloor with a shimmering electronic beat under the verses and a beautifully arranged instrumental breakdown whilst the chorus again allows Hannah to show another side to her vocal range. Dust And Doubt slows things down, dramatic in its intent, imploring her adversary “a devastator of desire, a captivator and a liar” to “get out, get out”, turning the tables and emerging victorious “clean of your doubt and disbelief.”
No Gravity starts with a claustrophobic questioning of our place in the world before revealing hope in the line “hold this space, now I’ve found clarity, it’s a place where there’s no gravity.” Recent single Signs Of Life builds dramatically in the verses, a piano following Hannah’s vocals which dictate the pace and the intent of the song confidently and with unerring impact. Again, its message is an optimistic one to not give in - “there are still signs of life, they’re in your line of sight, where there are fights still to fight , there is still life.”
This Is Not An Ending continues that theme, looking at how things aren’t always how they look, describing her state as “there is a rose in my hand but a thorn in my loaded heart” as she picks over a relationship at the critical point “this is not an ending, we are still suspending.”
The album concludes with Boy In The Frame, one of those songs that stops you dead in your tracks and reduces you to emotional mush. In it, Hannah puts herself in the place of a ninety year old woman looking at a faded photograph and back at her life and the loss of her brother as a child - “every waking day of these eighty years, I have missed the boy in the frame” - and how the subject was never discussed by her parents shutting her out. The woman on her deathbed is finally talking about it and letting out her pent up feelings “as my days are nearly through.” The first time I heard this song was on a train to work and could feel that involuntary welling up that only those few songs that touch the rawest nerve can make happen and it still has the same impact on subsequent listens. It’s an astounding end to the album, the emotion in Hannah’s voice and the way the piano pushes the exact same emotional buttons the words convey making it so powerful and devastatingly raw.
Pieces Of The Night is one of those albums released without fanfare (it’s been six years since Hannah released her Still Static EP) that will stop anyone fortunate enough to stumble across it in their tracks. The songs are layered with emotional intelligence that means they’re easy to relate to, not too specific but also not too glib and vague to have no resonance. The production is crisp, clear and allows Hannah’s voice to take centre stage and the instrumentation to add force or subtlety to it as required.
Hannah Scott's official website can be found here and she is on Facebook and Twitter.
The album can be purchased from her Big Cartel shop.
She plays the following shows : New Milton Forest Arts Centre (August 23), Worthing Coast Cafe Des Artistes (31), Faversham Hop Festival (September 2), London Troubadour (7), London Heathrow Cafe Nero (9), London Sofar Sounds (22), Newbury Ace Space (October 19), Bath Sofar Sounds (23), Ashford Bloomsburys Biddenden (26), Beccles Hungate Chuch (27), York Newbald House Concerts (November 10) and Guildford The Star Inn (23).