The Fire in Hannah Kirby’s Soul
Fire in My Soul
That a singer-songwriter from the Upper East Side of Texas does well on TV talent shows almost isn’t news anymore. That she doesn’t do country music may be more unusual but doesn’t matter. For Sulphur Springs’ Hannah Kirby, a top-eight finisher on “The Voice,” even defining a genre is difficult. So she calls her first CD of original music “alternative pop-rock.”
The CD is Fire in My Soul. All 10 songs are the singer-writer-fiddler’s own.
The consistently solid songs are emotional, delivered with confidence and a sometimes tendency — widespread these days — to show off Kirby’s voice (or perhaps just using what she’s got) and often heavy production (which is the way radio likes songs). The songs, beginning with the cautionary “I’m Not Juliet,” are about love and caution and fear and being brave and lost-or- losing that love: “You may be Romeo / but I’m not Juliet / I won’t take the poison . . . Love is a thing sent from up above.”
That opener is as close to country as Kirby gets, with a bit of blues tossed in. “Short Days, Long Nights,” which is more soul, also might slip into the edges of modern country: “my heart knows you don’t love me / but my mind tries to pretend.”
Half of the rest of the songs fit that broader alternative pop-rock label: faster, more aggressive, heavily instrumented explorations of sometimes ragged relationships.
“Mercy” could be a Christian song — Kirby’s many influences include contemporary Christian musician Carman as well as Bob Dylan and Loreena McKennitt — or another rocky relationship: “You didn’t believe in me / I didn’t know it was I who’d forsaken you.”
In the more haunting “Will You Stay with Me,” Kirby sings “You would drown the world just to save me / and I would drown us to save the world.”
Fire in My Soul ends with a fiddle-and- piano dominated instrumental, “Honor,” a pretty, gently coming down from the fast-paced power songs, with Sarah Masat-Holmes adding piano to Kirby’s fiddle.
Dave Walser recorded, mixed, and mastered eight of the songs; Joshua Silverberg mixed and programmed two. An assortment of instrumentalists added piano, acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitar, upright bass, drums, organ, and accordion.
Kirby was recording Fire in My Soul before “The Voice” came along but, she said, “Basically, nobody was even going to know I recorded an album. I had like only 50 followers on Twitter, and social media is so important for musicians today. The whole reason I tried to get on the show was exposure and, for me, it was like mission accomplished. Now I have between 20,000 and 30,000 followers.”
That’s a following that’s pleased with the fire in Kirby’s soul.