Live Hart’s debut album, Honesty, interestingly contrasts with the name of her recent group experience, Urbanesque. This is because Honesty is almost anything but an urban listening experience. Instead, it’s far more of a folk-pop project.
For instance, one song called “Lala” (no, not that Derek & the Dominos/Eric Clapton lyrical revelation) is an acoustic guitar-backed love song. The title is actually that wordless ‘la la’ oftentimes used in song choruses. “What Is Love” is another track that opts for the acoustic guitar treatment, as this one uses this tactic and augments it with jazzy touches. The backing vocals on the song are also pretty.
Lyrically, Hart is an undeniable optimist. Songs like “New Day” and “This Is Me” focus on always seeing the bright side of life. The latter suggests, “You can fly as high as a bird in the sky,” for instance.
The most interesting sonic moment on this 10-song release is a credible reggae number titled “We Can Change The World.” Although Live loses credibility points for shamelessly stealing the melody to Bob Marley’s “Jammin’,” she nevertheless deserves praise for listening and learning her lessons well from Marley’s Legend album. Album closer, “Release,” applies a male rap part. However, the song is breezy pop-jazz, rather than the typical R&B rap-assisted track.
Although Hart has created a pretty set of songs, she hasn’t done enough to make her music clearly distinguishable from the rest of the contemporary music scene. The fear is that her songs will get lost in the marketplace glut, without enough unique features to make them stand out. This is because Hart is a relatively generic songwriter. None of her words come off as unusual or unexpected. Instead, they’re about as predictable as Hallmark birthday greeting cards. In other words, she writes her words to sound like typical pop song lyrics, rather than try and separate herself as a unique writing voice.
This is a shame because Hart has a sweet singing voice. She fills her vocals with plenty of empathy and warmth. She truly sounds like she’s singing to you, not at you. Her tone is a bit airy, but she’s always right on key.
The listener is left pleased, but not overwhelmingly impressed. Hart needs to be pushed to write and sing uncomfortable lyrics at times, perhaps. Life’s not all rainbows and puppy dogs, and she knows it. Without much depth, Hart comes off closer to a movie-of-the-week pop star.
Hart could create a far more effective album project, if she’d only let her imagination fly free. If she wrote songs that took the listener on a mental mystery tour, to half paraphrase the Beatles, the journey would be far more fulfilling. As it stands, Hart is a nice pop singer, and nice guys (and gals, too) usually finish last. The best pop songs are inspired by extreme circumstances. Either extreme joy or extreme pain prompt the most talented songwriters to create their finest works. Not that we’d wish anything bad on Hart, but let’s hope she finds much deeper inspirations for her next work.