Hannah Marcus explores her conflicting emotions with her haunted voice on Black Hole Heaven. Guiding listeners through the fearful territory of the dark underworld of her psyche, Marcus swings between the fragility of acoustic guitars and the strength of big beats with exquisite results.
Marcus takes a delicate approach to her music, letting her voice carry most of the material. Heartfelt and passionate, Marcus’ voice is able to communicate pain and anger on the bitter “Osiris in Pieces” as well as a yearning for beauty on the metaphorical “Morning Glory.” Marcus does not shy away from dealing with her own torment on Black Hole Heaven, creating a beautifully somber environment for her listeners.
Hannah Marcus’ lyrics are introspective and wistful, twisting along the same lines as her vocals and music. “Hey Jay why won’t you answer my page…been calling for two days” she sings plaintively on “Jay” and the sorrowful “Darling How Are You” ends effectively unfulfilled with the line “But you hung up before I said.” Marcus also creates startling images on songs such as “Crimson Bird” and “Under the Void.” While the abundance of guitars and piano on Black Hole Heaven would otherwise declare Hannah Marcus to be just another female folk-rock singer/songwriter, the experimental approach she takes to her music makes her stand out. Peppering her songs with strange spoken-word samples, she has added a new dimension to this genre of music. Unfortunately, these samples are sometimes distracting, and don’t contribute much to the overall effect of the songs.
Although Black Hole Heaven is impressive when taken as whole, the oppressive nature of both subject matter and music does become tiring. The cohesiveness of is admirable, but Hannah Marcus comes across as a bit too tortured to remain entertaining for the length of the album. Fortunately, there is enough of a catharsis in the final track of “Tired Swan” to make the journey fulfilling.
Still, Black Hole Heaven is an elegant exploration of the hidden emotions in everyone’s lives, and Hannah Marcus has no problem with exposing them. For its flaws, Black Hole Heaven is a fascinating set of songs.