If you know Bri Hunt at all, nothing about her debut full length under the Many Rooms moniker should surprise you. This includes the fact that the masses are beginning to respond to her music in a big way. Let me tell you why.
Actually before I go any further, a quick sidebar: I’m listening to the album once more as I type, as I sit on my front porch. I can hear the birds chirping outside of my earbuds, and the peaceful effect is especially cathartic and beautiful.
Back to my thoughts on why this album shouldn’t surprise you if you know Bri. This album is inspired by real life—and that includes hardship, the evolution of faith, finding encouragement in unlikely places, and the direct relationship of interests some might find “geeky” to life experiences. The latter is realized in everything from her unending love of C.S. Lewis’ work (“Dear Heart,” “Which is to Say, Everything”) to nostalgia for the fantastic and at times heart-rending The Neverending Story (“The Nothing”). “Which is to Say, Everything” progresses like prose but ends in the clouds, and “The Nothing” is more bare bones, remaining in a state of quiet contemplation. Sometimes, when reflecting on your life, that’s all you can do. Sit. Reflect. That’s what Hunt does in that song.
The arrangement of the record, while sparse, is definitely a progression from Many Rooms’ Hollow Body EP. Piano is a new introduction, and we find the combination of piano, voice, and guitar layered in myriad ways throughout the record. At times it’s washed out, at times disquieting, at times ethereal. Even at the album’s most melancholy moments, I found that overall mood of calm never changed. Even as Hunt recalled a toxic breakup over a simple piano melody in “There Is A Presence Here,” I felt calm. In spite of that song lacking the vocal effect that makes Hunt’s voice somewhat masked by the layers elsewhere, I feel calm. “When deep cries to deep, you breathe” is a line that is raw and intimate, and it seems to communicate a needed truth in the midst of turmoil. I find myself thinking that this Scripture-inspired lyric could be beneficial as a daily reminder in my own life.
There Is A Presence Here is indeed a record that is at once very personal yet very applicable to the human experience. For that reason I think people will latch onto this. That, and it’s plain a great record to fall asleep or take a late night drive to.