Ambient and mildly retro production meets with emotive chord progressions and subtle solos, providing the perfect soundscapes to introduce Hope Rau’s equally emotional yet smooth, engaging vocals and lyrics. All of this is clear on a softly country-kissed title-track to kick off this new EP.
The unique qualities of Hope’s voice shine more brightly as the music goes on, the softness of the hook cleverly drawing you in – along with the subtlety of the whole expression that is the song. In fact, the creatively thoughtful qualities of her song-writing shine with increasing brightness, too.
Runnin’ is the perfect opener, feeling all at once like a country-pop classic and an alternative, less-predictable and honest take on modern music.
The EP continues to venture further down these honest and contemplative pathways, and the music continues to prove creatively uninhibited.
Old City Waters welcomes in further organic layers for a subtle world music vibe. Hope’s voice takes more of a backseat, breathy and soulful, enticing for its distance and the way the singer places herself within the arrangement and the concept. There’s a nostalgic beauty to this one, a little 90’s pop-rock with a twist of KT Tunstall and another impressively unpredictable structure.
Starry Eyes refreshes once more, with a riff-led soundscape yet a pop-like verse – short lines and intimate, personal references, alongside further talk of contemplation; requiring time to ponder and consider. Enter a uniquely retro electronic beat, subtle and soft, and the song proceeds to weave its web of intrigue around listeners in an increasingly hypnotic manner.
Bringing things to a finish is an impressive live acoustic piece entitled Since I Left You. Here we get the simple strum of an acoustic guitar, and a reverb-kissed vocal that tips its hat to the gypsy-jazz swagger of a simpler time.
A brilliant final addition to the project, showcasing all the more-so how truly versatile and freely expressive Hope Rau is as both a writer and a performer. Runnin’ is a genuinely refreshing, unexpectedly interesting new project, from an artist well worth looking out for as and when the live scenes return.