Album Review: Many Rooms – ‘There Is A Presence Here’

Music Insight, 2018

A lullaby for existentialists, There Is A Presence Here is the debut album from Brianna Hunt, known as Many Rooms. After the critical acclaim received from the release of her single ‘Which Is To Say, Everything’, which debuted on NPR’s All Songs Considered, Hunt has authored an album that leads listeners deep into darkness.

Opening with the layered complexity of ‘Nonbeing,’ the record delves straight into a reckoning with questions of mortality; “If I died and nothing happens, will my soul decay with me?” Hunt brings expression to these concerns throughout, working through belief, trauma and courage over the ten track album.

‘Danielle,’ and ‘Hollow Body,’ revisit her previous EP with added dissonance. Improving upon the already haunting tracks that address deeply troubling figures in her life, she sings of disappearing from the monsters that visit her at night and “this darkness that I want to keep”, while resonant guitar and humming bass accompany her whisper-soft vocals.

The instrumentality of the album stays true to her established lo-fi sound. While it’s common for indie singer-songwriters to produce tracks that sound like candid confessionals, there’s a uniquely unvarnished feel to Hunt’s production.

Her poignant lyrics are nearly lost in the mix of electric guitar and ambient noise, and listeners are pushed to pay close attention in order to hear heartbreaking questions addressed to a god in ‘The Nothing’, as Hunt whispers, “Am I buried alive in my filth? Do you find me lovely?”

Spirituality is a consistent theme throughout the record. The title track contains an apology to a ‘let down soul’, where “deep cries out to deep” repeating over a simple piano riff. ‘Dear Heart’ quotes directly from the words of Jesus Christ in the bible; “All will know who I am, the lion and the lamb.”

It’d be easy to bundle Many Rooms alongside artists like Julien Baker and Gang of Youths who work through spirituality, doubt and belief through poetic lyricism, but the production of the album leaves the tracks sounding like a first take, rather than a polished piece. A humming fridge and shuffling chairs featured in ‘When I Find You In The Flowers’ create an added level of vulnerability to an album with tracks so personal it can feel like reading through a stranger’s diary; painful and fascinating at the same time.

There Is A Presence Here is a record that forces listeners to be present, taking the time to sit, and offers tracks that continue to reveal new lyrics and riffs with each repeat. The seamless transitions and foggy instrumentalism recall rainy days and lonely nights, perfect for listening rugged up after a rough day.

Many Rooms has created an album that’s painfully vulnerable and courageously candid, and we can’t stop listening.

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