A much praised semi-finalist in one of the recent seasons of American Idol, Brielle Von Hugel’s single “Naked” solidifies the praise for her vocal talents and the promise she’s displayed since her first public exposure. This first taste from her forthcoming second EP builds on her aforementioned national television appearances, popular YouTube covers, and live appearances with Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox while still revealing another side of her artistic talents even those initial efforts did not fully reveal. The song runs a little over four minutes, but it never seems that long – instead, listeners are drawn so deeply into a bare bones musical world of Von Hugel’s voice and solo piano that time seems to disappear completely. She has the talent and vulnerability alike to weave a spell over any audience who encounters her.
Her voice mixes bluesy gravitas with an impressive range and flights of melodic excellence. She knows how to tailor her great gift against the sparse, yet intensely lyrical, piano work accompanying here through the song. The bare bones approach to this particular song is, obviously, quite appropriate. There’s much more than that going on however. The marriage between her voice and the piano is a delicate, even intricate, weave of sound with each instrument falling in just the right places and there’s a beautiful effortlessness to it that comes across like a spontaneous utterance of the heart.
The lyrical content is peppered with a number of well-turned poetic flourishes, but they are never ostentatious in anyway and don’t hamper the accessibility of the song in anyway. If you evaluate the quality of lyrics by how well they fit the performer in question, “Naked” is an enormous success in that area. They mix personal imagery with the general in a perfect balance and these scenes ripped from life will resonate with anyone who’s been through this experience. It doesn’t matter that Brielle Von Hugel is a female singer. She is singing for anyone, man or woman, who has experienced a moment of self-realization this profound and life-changing.
The song construction is top notch and the transitions between each part are flawlessly handled by songwriting and performers alike. “Naked” has exceptional production, as well – these aforementioned elements constitute a winning formula with a fresh vibrancy and a pleasing inevitability that hardcore music fans, particularly of top shelf pop balladry like this, will associate with the best singers and songwriters.
She’s no shooting star. Sustaining long term success in the modern music scene is hard going, but the biggest talents with the best work ethic win out. The same cream rising to the top of the pop world are likewise smart enough to surround themselves with the best collaborators they can find. Brielle Von Hugel’s “Naked” is her finest moment yet in her brief public career and sits her up for the future quite nicely.