reviewed by Michael Thomas
We all process our past in different ways. Some prefer to bury it or distort it—for better or worse. But Anna Horvath, as Merival, instead prefers to process them and lay everything out in the open.
The twist of Lovers is that all five of the EP’s songs were written before Horvath turned 20. There’s a kind of bravery in digging up songs from one’s past, and Horvath’s hurt feelings are especially raw right from the get go.
Folk music seems to work best with this kind of emotional honesty. For the most part, listeners are alone with just Horvath and her guitar (and Asher Gould-Murtagh’s piano on “Alay Alas” and “Kicking You Out). It becomes even easier to empathize as she sings about uncertainty about your future in a relationship, dreaming and more.
“A Better Deal” is one of those songs about uncertainty. When one half of a couple gets an opportunity elsewhere, will the other half follow? Can they make the long-distance thing work? Horvath in this song doesn’t know what the future will hold for her. Future uncertainty is different in “Kicking You Out,” which Horvath wrote when she was only 17. She hadn’t lived with anyone at that point, but speculated on the concept of if and when and why she would kick him out.
Where those two songs try to glimpse at the future, “Calendar” looks back. This is about a lover from the past; Horvath grapples with a way to measure the presence this lover made.
“Dream of Yourself” is a sweet and simple song, an ode to someone. And while it and the three aforementioned songs prefer slow strumming of the guitar, “Alay Alas” is enchanting, as fluid and natural as the surroundings Horvath breathlessly described. It’s a nice break from quieter reminiscence and shows Horvath can show her teeth if need be.
It seems impossible to get through Lovers without being reminded of something from your own life—this was certainly my experience—and the EP rings all the more true because of it.
Top Track: “Kicking You Out”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)