Hannah Georgas Breaks Down Her Aaron Dessner–Produced “All That Emotion” Track by Track

The sprawling record is out today on Brassland and Arts & Crafts.
Track by Track
Hannah Georgas Breaks Down Her Aaron Dessner–Produced “All That Emotion” Track by Track

The sprawling record is out today on Brassland and Arts & Crafts.

Words: Danielle Chelosky

photo by Vanessa Heins

September 04, 2020

Lo-fi indie-pop songwriter Hannah Georgas is not subtle about her vulnerability on her new album All That Emotion. Self-reflection, healing, and resilience are some themes Georgas mentions in the record’s press release; though, if you listen to the album, you could easily deduce that for yourself. Her vocals are at the forefront of these meditative ballads, floating above soft, meandering sonic landscapes of pulsating synths, and sometimes poignant piano keys.

Alongside Aaron Dessner of The National, Georgas crafted these songs in upstate New York. “It was really special,” she shared in the press release, “getting the opportunity to work in such a remote space with Aaron and [engineer Jon low] and I was always itching to get back whenever we had breaks. At the same time, I appreciated the space in between and coming back with fresh ears.”

All That Emotion is out today via Brassland—Dessner’s label—and Arts & Crafts. Here, Georgas broke down each song on the album, which grapples with breakups, family turmoil, insecurities, anxiety, and more.

1. “That Emotion”
The writing process for this song came together in different pieces. I had the verses long before the chorus. Late one evening in my apartment I started singing the chorus melody and lyrics. I was so tired, but I knew it was important that I recorded the thought. So I got up and tried to figure it out on the piano. I realized later that the chorus would fit really well to these verses I had written a while back.

The meaning behind the song is basically about the feeling I’ve had of letting my emotions build up inside and not necessarily being consciously aware of it. It ends up triggering me when I’m not ready. We’re all individuals that have different stories and stresses in our lives. I know that I suppress my emotions sometimes and try to keep on like I’m OK. It ends up weighing me down in the end. This song is about admitting to that feeling of trying to hide how I’m really feeling.

2. “Easy”
I was going through a break up around the time I wrote this song and I was feeling as though I didn’t get proper closure to the relationship. I was sad and frustrated that I couldn’t communicate my emotions and felt like they weren’t giving me a lot back in return. I felt like I had a lot to say, but couldn’t really get through at all.

3. “Dreams”
In my past, I have let my insecurities play into relationships and have pushed people away because I have felt like I’m not good enough. This song explores the idea of breaking down those barriers of insecurity and being more open. It’s about finding happiness within yourself. It’s about realizing that we’re deserving of love, and learning how to not push the great things away.

4. “Pray It Away”
This song is about questioning why it’s so difficult to accept each other’s differences and accepting that sometimes the people we want approval from the most are not going to give you that. I met up with a good friend of mine for dinner one evening. She was in the midst of planning her wedding and had sent out her wedding invitations. She was upset because of a response she received back from a family member. They explained that they didn’t want to attend her wedding because she was marrying another woman.

It was upsetting to see my friend go through all of this during a time when she should have been celebrating. I come from a conservative family and struggle with being on a completely different page sometimes with my beliefs. Aaron had emailed me an instrumental idea a little while back before this encounter I had with my friend. I ended up writing “Pray It Away” over his instrumental the next day after my friend and I had that conversation.

5. “Someone I Don’t Know”
This song is about feeling lost in a relationship, and like you never really knew the person you were with. This is one of my favorite tracks off the album because of the approach Aaron took with the production. It has this steady pace and just kinda bubbles throughout. I love when his guitar line enters during the pre-choruses. It gives me shivers when I hear it.

6. “Punching Bag”
This song is about trying to change someone that’s not right for you, and stay in the relationship hoping they will eventually change. Aaron thought it would be cool to add a rhythmic talking part for texture throughout the verses. At the time I wasn’t really sure how that would work, but it opened up a whole new meaning to the song for me. I was also nervous to start “rapping” in front of Aaron and Jon! The talking vocal became the voice in my head that is actually speaking the truth about being in a dysfunctional relationship. The main vocal was the part of me that wanted to ignore the elephant in the room and just stay in the relationship.

7. “Same Mistakes”
I initially wrote this song on guitar, but ended up finding a different arrangement on the piano while I was recording with Aaron. Aaron built such a beautiful atmosphere around my piano and vocals. I remember recording this song late in the evening at Long Pond and feeling like it was such a magical moment. This song feels like a stream of consciousness or an inner dialogue with myself. It’s about self-reflection, realization, and how I find myself often thinking about how our upbringing can impact who we are and what we believe about ourselves.

8. “Just a Phase”
I struggle with anxiety and stress from time to time. I know that when I have that all under control I feel like I can accomplish anything. This song is about the feeling you experience when you step out of the way of your own fear, anxieties and doubts.

9. “Habits”
Aaron and I tried a couple of different versions of this song when we were recording it at Long Pond. We started off with a more intimate, slow vibe for it, and we started to feel like it needed to have a more upbeat feel. I’m really happy with where we landed. This song is inspired by the patterns and bad habits I’ve created from past relationships and my upbringing. I start playing stupid games because of my own insecurities.

10. “Change”
This song is about trying to get over someone and move forward. Knowing that there will be a time you’ll look back and realize they were never right in the first place. It’s about recognizing that change is a powerful thing, and even though at the time it feels crazy, someday something good will come out of it.

11. “Cruel”
This song is about questioning why someone you care about can’t take responsibility for their actions. They continue to place blame on everyone else except themselves. You kinda feel like there’s no way to salvage the relationship. I loved recording this song with Aaron and Jon. It felt really intimate and powerful to sing the song live off the floor with Aaron alongside playing piano.