Brielle Von Hugel – Naked
Brielle Von Hugel’s much deserved meteoric rise towards pop stardom continues with the first single, “Naked”, from her forthcoming sophomore EP. Widespread media appearances, guest shots with performers like Scott Bradlee, and placing in the semi-finals of Season 11 of American Idol at the age of sixteen are among the honors gracing her brief but thus far stunning career. This Staten Island based talent, the daughter of a doo wop singer, has performed in public since an early age and every bit of that confidence comes from her performances. There’s never any hint of swagger but, instead, it’s sure footed skill that comes through and a cool hand with lyrics that a lesser singer might mangle. The track is an ideal length for it to be considered a showcase without ever trailing on for a single second too long.
The musical arrangement is nothing but a piano accompanying her vocal, but it never sounds too stripped back or lacking. Instead, the playing elevates the song’s drama several notches and gives Hugel a melodic partner capable of following her to the grandest heights her voice and emotions will allow. The production and tastefulness of the approach never allows the instrument a chance to outshine the singer, but gracefully contrasts with her vocal melody. It has the effect of dueling melodies, but sympathetic, in tune with the mood and musicality of their opposite component. Any additional instruments would have certainly diluted the impact of this song. The absence of clutter gives a chance for both elements to shine while, likewise, helping the song feel lighter and able to breathe.
If the songwriting is a stage from which a performer sings, the lyrics are the script. Hugel’s words for this track are a well-crafted narrative about the triumph of accepting who you are and the benefits it brings to our lives when we reach that goal. There isn’t a single wasted word in the verses or choruses and they perfectly capture the experience with occasionally eloquent flair. Hugel’s voice, however, makes all of this possible. Her impassioned vocals know multiple gears; she can soar to powerful heights and shift into deeply emotive, understated passages without missing a beat. Too many singers of her technical caliber are content to attack every line with the exact amount of feel as the line preceding it. Von Hugel treats the song as a living entity, her voice evolving as the lyric and arrangement progress, and it’s likely every live performance she gives of this song will have some lively twist in her vocal treatment.
This is the stuff great and long careers in pop music are made of. She’s had as great of a launching pad as one can hope for that she earned with her considerable talents and has received a lot of support from many influential quarters. Such achievements are not earned lightly. Brielle Von Hugel’s first single from her upcoming second EP is likely to propel her career to a much higher level than before.