album: Knock Hard - Yours Are the Only Ears
Every second of Knock Hard feels significant, meaningful, and important. The power of Yours Are the Only Ears's latest album was apparent from the release of its first singles, with Susannah Cutler previously detailing the album's intentions during an interview with TGE. It's only as an entire, uninterrupted listen, that one can fully understand and grasp Cutler's message — holding tightly to her hopeful threads of empowerment and courage.
So much of the release relies on softness, with Cutler's vocal presence often barely rising above a whisper. The vocal move creates a sense of intimacy, as if you truly need to devote yourself fully to each story, especially as Yours Are the Only Ears embraces solitude ("Seeds") and realizes that the passage of time may provide relief to pain ("Saturn").
Backed by off-kilter and at times even haunting keys, along with lush, soft acoustics, Knock Hard has an otherworldly quality about it. Whether supported by a surprising thump of percussion and weighted keys as she questions whether one is a "good persxn" on "Fire in My Eyes" or veering into playful indie-pop that recounts a period of waiting on "It's the Numbing Out," one feels as if they're floating, twirling, exploring this beautiful space of emotion and secrets.
In the album's closing track, Cutler initially strips back most of the instrumentals, allowing just her voice and a guitar to open. She ruminates out loud, again nearly whispering, "I used to make decisions /But these days they seem to make me." As the song reaches it conclusion, Cutler seemingly lands upon a realization, and although she doesn't share the answer, one can't help but feel their own sense of resolve from this musical journey.
For just a few short minutes Cutler allowed us into her world, but ultimately, what we choose to do with these confessions remains up to us. And the true beauty of it all? We can return here as often as we like.