Good vocal music knows none of the limits some of the more hook-driven pop music in the world does, and no critic can deny as much when listening to a song like Angela Hench’s cover of the Lizzo smash “Truth Hurts.” In this single and its music video, Hench delicately straddles the line between old-fashioned big band and modern pop power that is both emotionally unguarded and stinging at the same time. One is inclined to call this piece a swing-like sound for a new generation, but to me, it’s just too unique for comparisons to any other act in recent music history.
Everything is out in the open here, starting with the feelings our singer is hoisting up from beneath a vast ocean of tense melodicism. Her words bleed into the fabric of the strings rather seamlessly, but this isn’t because the vocal doesn’t have its own space in the mix. When there’s this kind of passion in an arrangement, every element of the music begins to form a collective push as big and strong as any element known within nature. We’re left directly in its path, and to our great fortune, Angela Hench doesn’t step in between right at the last minute.
The rhythm in this single is as important a contributor to the narrative as the singing is if not just a bit more in a couple of key moments we find just ahead of the halfway point in the song. By creating an almost pompous discord between the pace of the verse and that of the strings, we’re always waiting for the lumbering tempo to pick up and release something cathartic, which only comes at the discretion of our dexterous singer. We’re lost in the chaos of complete isolation, and it’s a state somehow created with movement rather than standstill melodies.
Angela Hench probably could have allowed for just a little more at the bottom end of this mix and sustained more muscularity coming into the finish line, but I can also appreciate her wanting to keep this track rather stripped-down and free of any unnecessary excesses beyond what the music is made of, to begin with. She isn’t trying to prove herself as a studio player; she’s putting something out there for us to absorb wholly, with the melodic framework serving as so much more than just a simple example of what she can conjure up at the tap of a finger. This is more than a cover; it’s a revelation as to who we’ve been listening to lately.
Among the summer’s most curious indie efforts, I have found Angela Hench’s “Truth Hurts” to be one of the few must-listens of the lot. Instead of just expanding on the identity of her discography in this latest release, she’s looking deeper into the roots of the concept she calls her own, thus delivering us something that sounds fuller in comparison to anything she’s recorded before. I love what she’s doing for the indie beat, and hopefully, I’ll have the chance to see her do it in person sooner than later.