For Evelyn was one of the best, under the radar albums of 2016. An often outsized, slyly powerful and frequently odd electro-pop record that saw Hannah Georgas take considerable risks and still make a record that was her best to date. All That Emotion offers a very different kind of mood and one that Georgas decided should be helmed by Aaron Dessner of The National. 2020 will of course be remembered for, amongst several other less pleasant things, another Dessner produced record, Folklore by Taylor Swift. Georgas uses some similar textural soundscapes for her record as Folklore but the similarities are limited to this. All That Emotion is a modern take on folk music, lyrics are introspective and emotionally rooted (er, see title!) and acoustic instrumentation features heavily, but there are also moments where the synths that played such an important role in For Evelyn make their presence felt again.
‘Habits’ is a wonderfully nagging tune that unfurls and then retracts itself beautifully, much like the old and bad habits that Georgas sings about and which she tries to control unsuccessfully whilst around toxic associates. ‘You’re dead to me’ is the definitive statement issued over the persistent drum machine clicks, adding a subtle and disconcerting edge to a soundscape which is also welcoming and enveloping.
‘That Emotion’ has a similar vocal warmth that suggests comfort but actually is less friendly than first impressions suggest and has a glacial, elegant melody that will stick around regardless of whether you want it to.
On ‘Same Mistakes’ the theme of bad behaviours returns but, over a buried piano and lush guitars, Georgas is telling her younger self that the self criticism was not justified and that some things just don’t matter as much as you think they will.
‘Just a Phase’ and ‘Punching Bag’ both have an urgency and a sense of tight-chested claustrophobia that sets them apart from their neighbouring tracks. Dessner and Georgas draw more angular and electronic sonic patterns around vocals which assert and undermine convincingly with ‘Just a Phase’ in particular ramping up a tension that is palpable. It’s a shame then that this couplet is so short lived, especially when some of the songs here are prettily sad and lovely sounding but leave little lasting impression.
You can hear that All That Emotion has been a true labour of love and one that has taken almost two years to make, collecting from hours worth of demos. Hannah Georgas is a artist that considers everything and although sometimes here you wish she had drawn from her more primal creative impulses, this is still an album that intrigues and comforts in almost equal measure.