Spells by Nailah Hunter (Review)

This lovely little album by harpist Nailah Hunter stands in stark contrast to these chaotic times.
Spells - Nailah Hunter

At the risk of stating the obvious, there’s so much chaos, sorrow, and darkness in the world right now, from the ongoing pandemic to George Floyd’s murder. And I’m the last person to tell anyone that they shouldn’t be disturbed and outraged by the indignity and injustice of it all.

But with so much darkness swirling around us right now, it’s easy to forget that there’s still beauty in this world — and that beauty can make the world’s darkness a little easier to bear. Music has always been one such thing for me, with Nailah Hunter’s debut album being the latest example that I’ve discovered — and it might provide just the sort of solace that you’ll find helpful during these dark times.

The appropriately titled Spells consists of six delightful compositions that play out like little fantastical vignettes. Hunter weaves her harp’s dulcet tones, as well as her own dreamy vocals, together with shimmering synths and electronics that bring to mind the Orange Milk label’s otherworldly soundscapes. The resulting music, particularly on album highlight “White Flower, Dark Hill” and the synthwave-y “Talisman,” feels like entering a whole nother world, a safe and protected one full of mystery.

My only complaint is that Hunter’s songs are far too short. (The longest one clocks in at just under two-and-a-half minutes). Then again, the songs’ brevity and ephemeral nature is also part of their charm. In the end, I simply find myself listening to them over and over again, and their effect has yet to lose any of its potency.

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