The Bright Forever – Carried Away (Independent)
The Bright Forever is the creative project of LA based singer-songwriter Megan Hook, and the eight tracks on “Carried Away” are performed by Hook and a group of talented local musicians who compliment and add to her considerable multi-instrumental prowess. Indeed, Hook’s first musical loves were the great composers - Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach – which led to a degree in Classical Music and an early career in opera - and although “Carried Away” is very much a singer-songwriter album, elements of her classical music education are ever-present within the album’s eight tracks.
Hook’s lead instrument is piano, though she’s also credited with guitar, bells, and harmonium, and she sings with a clear, pure, unfettered voice that induces a chilly tingle on the back of the neck. This collection is the second of a trio of albums that are planned for release in 2013 (the third record is being recorded as I type), and as such should be considered just part of a complete and major work. Of course, when delivered in individual sections like this, each part must stand alone, and “Carried Away” does so with strong songs and accomplished musicianship.
Beginning with “Break Me Open”, it’s propelled by Hook’s delicate piano and Ellen Hong’s understated cello. The effect is melancholic and sorrowful, but quite beautiful and moving. “Did I Dream You” is equally affecting, and “Under the Sun” incorporates aspects of progressive pop, which brings to mind Kate Bush circa “Lionheart”. The album ends with the title track, where everything comes together in elegant focus, and concentrates Hook’s impressive and ambitious vision.