Brielle Von Hugel – Naked
The opening single from Brielle Von Hugel’s second EP, “Naked”, is closer to the work of singer/songwriters and soul music giants of yore than modern pop songstress. People talked a great deal about her Season 11 performance of the Otis Redding classic “Sittin’ on the Dock of a Bay” on Fox’s American Idol and her performances with outfits like Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox have marked her as one of the potentially monumental talents in her generation. The New York City born native appeared on American Idol at the tender age of sixteen an already prodigious talent. She’s now twenty two years old and better than the singer with the audacity to cover an Otis Redding song in every measurable way. It’s quite an achievement and “Naked” clearly points the way to more to come.
It is an intensely personal song. Hugel’s inspiration driving her performance, feeling like an outcast in school because of her appearance is likewise pushed forward by her motivation to inspire young women to strive for full independence and the freedom that comes with realizing your own identity. The lyrics are clear, fleshed out well, and clearly intend to be more meaningful than the often fragmentary lines other pop artists might offer up in comparison. A singer of this across the board magnitude can get a hell of a lot of first class words like this. The key is how closely they hewn to the vocalist’s talents and song structure. The words for “Naked” might surprise some listeners with the imagistic turns, but these are never overdone and make perfect sense in the larger scheme of the song.
As mentioned before, Von Hugel’s vocals knock this one out of the park, in some small part at least, because the lyric is so strong. Her vocal follows a melodic line exerting great dramatic effect over the song and she puts on a singing clinic with the way she magnifies certain lines, hangs back a little on others, and goes after the chorus with just the right emotional amplitude. The piano accompaniment, the only other instrument in the song, does a beautifully melodic job of matching the intensity of Von Hugel’s voice. They create seemingly effortless magic together and that is the true beauty of a moment like this in music – a discerning audience knows that it’s just a glorious illusion because a lot of joy went into this, along with a lot work, time, and patience. These are moments a performer earns from life and in the studio.
Brielle Von Hugel has a lot more accomplishments ahead of her. It’s quite likely, however, that when the story of her career comes to a close many years from now, anyone looking back over her recordings will likely point towards “Naked” as one of the indisputable high points of her artistic output. She is a singer and songwriter of rare distinction and, as her appearances have already shown, a born and fearless performer in every meaningful respect.