The opening moments of Hannah Georgas’ sprawling and lyrically-evocative third album, For Evelyn, sets the stage for her most ambitious and personal record yet. With its dreamy soundscape of fuzzy, wistful horns, Hannah’s dulcet voice begins as a whisper that ascends layer-upon-layer, against a sparse backdrop of drums. “I wake up in the middle of the night / thinking o my god who the hell am I? My whole life is gonna pass me by / I wake up out of my mind. What if the best times are all up?”
For Evelyn is named after Hannah’s “compassionate, patient, kind and beautiful” 98-year-old grandmother, who has been a lifelong inspiration to her. “She's lived almost a century on this planet and has witnessed so much. It's sometimes difficult to find peace within myself and not to react out of fear. When I see my grandma now, I wonder if she's made it to that place. I have a lot of respect for her and she inspires me. This album is an acknowledgment of that."
For Evelyn’s sonic landscape shifts between tracks that prompt solo dance parties to poignant and introspective songs in Hannah’s collaboration with producer Graham Walsh (Holy Fuck). Throughout the record they explore a variety of effects that alternate between playful, suggestive, funky, and foreboding, adding depth to Hannah’s compositions. “Graham is extremely talented and creative when it comes to finding original sounds,“ she says. “He offered a different perspective on things and challenged me in a really positive way. After years of working together, we have developed a great sense of trust and friendship."?? Hannah turned to Nicolas Vernhes to mix the record. She was moved to work with Nicolas based on her admiration of the work he did on records by Wye Oak, War On Drugs and Daughter.
Hannah recruited Andy Shauf, Howie Beck, and Ryan Guildemond to complete the recording process. Making music with old friends and working with Graham weren’t just smart creative decisions, but also a chance to anchor herself in the places and with the people that still felt like home in the midst of personal chaos. “I decided to uproot myself and leave Vancouver, which was kind of crazy,” thinking back about her decision to relocate to Toronto while recording For Evelyn. “I moved my entire life in four days, and then went back into the studio.”
For Evelyn offers an intimate front row seat to the vast spectrum of Hannah’s emotional highs and lows. Songs range from “Evelyn”, a high-octane sassy and soaring anthem to “Loveseat”, a semi-sweet lament about taking one’s own advice in matters of the heart. “Naked Beaches” is a shimmery and upbeat, reflection on a night of reckless abandon. “Crazy Shit” with its whimsical, coy lyrics exudes restrained chaos, “It's your fault I misbehave…you’ve got that look in your eye that makes me feel so alive.”
These more buoyant tracks stand out in sharp contrast to the album’s most heart-rending songs, like the ridiculously catchy first single “Don’t Go” and the beautifully haunting lower tempo “Walls”, both resonating with the breadth of emotions one goes through when faced with losing someone you love. “Lost Cause” finds Hannah delving into darker lyrical territory, quietly confessing, “life could be so sweet if I knew how to change” before letting her voice soar into a million directions, refracted layers of despair, “no one wants to see somebody fall to their knees cryin.” The album’s final track, “City,” is a bittersweet elegy for everything Georgas left behind when she returned to Ontario after eight years in Vancouver. “I’m at my best when I’m not guarded or holding anything back,” she says. “Be honest, be real.”
Hannah’s desire to divest herself of worry and self-doubt echoes throughout For Evelyn, but that’s just one-half of the album’s thematic landscape. “I have these moments in my life where I feel so empowered and thankful for everything that I have and then all of a sudden I feel anxious and overwhelmed,” Hannah says. It’s this honesty and vulnerability that infuses For Evelyn with endless warmth. Even in the album’s darkest moments, there’s something vibrant and vivid in Hannah’s music that emerges in her most daring and self-realized record to date.