Hannah Lev – Unaligned EP

Words by Daniel Farrell

Hannah Lev’s unaligned EP is a shot in the dark, it’s come out of nowhere in a sense, and harbours melancholic new wave RnB and soul, with more complicated neo-rap features.. Hosting New York’s rising sons, Deem Spencer and the ever-elusive Mel Hines, the EP is comprised of five tracks, and makes for a dreamy fifteen minutes of light strings, starish twinkles and calming bass patterns.

In spite of Hannah’s age(20), she’s been playing guitar for half her life, and has been producing and writing music since she was 14. This shows in the EP’s professionalist tone; It’s something an artist of perhaps more experience would certainly be proud of designing and offering. Anyway, without further delay, here is our take on Hannah Lev’s second EP, ‘Unaligned’. 

The EP’s opener Split2, produced by Hannah, throws us straight into a soft, lyrical forest with a powdering of light drums and settled bass. It sets the tone of the EP nicely. The track seems to tell a story of romantic failure or perhaps a laboured and gradual relationship with loneliness. Hannah’s voice carries this winsome, monotonic quality, which is unambiguous and makes for easy listening. You can almost imagine painting, reading a good book or walking on a beach on a breezy, but sunny afternoon, to this number. The track featured on CITR, a prominent Canada-based radio show, hosted by the eccentric and ever in-tune Nardwuar; That’s some compliment.

“Stop looking at me, like it means anything at all” 

Hannah told us – “the EP came together quite organically from the various songs I was writing during the first lockdown, so from around March- July of this year. The songs I was writing all had similar themes, moods & textures so it felt quite natural to release them as a single project”.

The second insertion on the EP, Thin Air, features the productional support of Mel Hines. 

“I sent him a few demos I was working on at the time, including an early version of Thin Air, which he reworked into something really different & more upbeat than the original, which I loved”.

As mentioned, Hines is an elusive character; Elusive but well respected amongst his peers. He offers a renewed canvas for Hannah to begin painting, with a more aggressive set of claps and maybe a more assertive bass pattern. It’s neatly in keeping with the thematics of the overall EP; We still notice the twinkles and subtle strings. It’s a cleverly put together song, in the sense that it seems a continuation of the previous track. 

“I had been listening to Mel Hines’s music for a few months, and I found his sound super interesting – so I just messaged him on Instagram one day asking whether he’d be down to collaborate! I sent him my first EP, Scaffold, which he really liked, and from there we started working together. It was so interesting to see how my ideas could be interpreted/reimagined by another artist. Mel has been such a huge help & inspiration, he really helped the EP come together (and he mastered the EP!), so shout out to him”.

The midpoint in the EP is track 3, Bitcrushed. Co-produced by Hannah Lev and Pallette, it again follows suit in terms of production, but we find a more adventurous approach regarding pitch; A heightened vocalisation showcases Hannah’s diversity of sound.

“Running up on a memory, I don’t miss how it used to be… I’ll probably never let you know”.

 It’s a pacier, overwrought version of Hannah, which adds elements of suspensefulness and panic. Lyrically, she follows similar topics of wanting, chasing and maybe that of heartache and despair. There is a definite hope in what she’s saying though, as she addresses the notion of the future as a void to fill.

The penultimate track on the EP, Put Out of Time, produced by Hannah, features Jamaica Queens resident, Deem Spencer. His eclectic approach to lyricism offers some much needed diversity to the EP. Speaking on Spencer, Hannah notes her admiration for his style and approach to music.

“Deem Spencer has honestly been one of my favourite artists since he dropped Pretty Face last February – I listen to his music all the time. Similarly to Mel, I just messaged Deem with a few demos because I knew he was looking to write verses for other artists. He liked Put Out Of Time, so he wrote his verse for it, which fit really well with the energy of the song. Both Mel Hines and Deem Spencer are based in Queens, NY (they’re friends actually haha) so all the collaboration took place via the internet. 

The EP’s closing track, So Real, is a perfect way to round off a stella second EP. The track utilises vocal repetition in a clever way, with only around ten words featuring. In spite of this, it’s the longest track at 3 minutes 16 seconds, showing again how Hannah can encapsulate a listener with little regard for the meaningfulness of the song’s content. Using those previously mentioned, subtle drum patterns and absorbing keys, Hannah neatly ties together the already fairly neat strands of the EP to a terminal.

Looking forward, Hannah notes that she’s “definitely interested in creating visuals for some of the tracks on Unaligned, that’s been a goal for a long time now!! Music video pending…”