Hilary McRae - Best Bet Singer/Songwriter With Power & Soul

Hilary McRae - Best Bet Singer/Songwriter With Power & Soul


McRae's vocal instrument is capable of withering intensity one moment, hushed intimacy the next -- a perfect match for these songs of uncommon candor and humanity -- songs that could only have emanated from an "old soul".


"Hilary McRae marries contemporary pop to a rich sound that smacks of '70s greats like Carole King, Chicago and Earth, Wind Fire." - MSN.com

The first developing artist to be signed to Hear Music, Hilary McRae is a 21-year-old writer/singer/pianist who seems to have time traveled to this decade from the 1970s. Her debut album 'Through These Walls' thrums with the vibrant rhythms and textures of old-school, horn-drenched, uptown R&B, a dynamic setting for the timelessly bittersweet songs and rich, dusky alto of this stunningly accomplished newcomer. McRae's vocal instrument is capable of withering intensity one moment, hushed intimacy the next -- a perfect match for these songs of uncommon candor and humanity -- songs that could only have emanated from an "old soul".

"McRae's strong, unaffected alto belies her young age... the music has power and soul." - Billboard

The album also introduces another remarkably gifted newcomer in producer/guitarist Zach Ziskin, McRae's longtime musical collaborator. It was Ziskin who had the crucial idea of enlisting the legendary Charlie Calello, who has arranged music for legends such as Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen, to create the horn parts. "I've loved horns since I was a kid listening to Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire," she confirms, "but I never thought of my own music in that way until we started making the record. Charlie came up with stellar horn parts; I was blown away by his ideas and let him do his thing. I was amazed at how much they added to the feel of the songs and the overall recording."

"A superb singer and songwriter, and a multi-instrumental wunderkind... Hilary McRae knows how to flex her musical muscle." - Performing Songwriting

At once vibrant and deftly nuanced, the horns serve as a sort of wordless Greek chorus behind McRae's vocals, providing a texturally rich counterpoint to her songs of romantic anguish -- laden with missed opportunities, what ifs and lingering heartache. "I definitely got my heart stomped on, more than once," she acknowledges. "That's probably why these songs are so raw." The opening "Everyday (When Will You Be Mine?)," is suffused with yearning, while the following "Consider Me Gone" is delivered with a mixture of hurt and defiance, as a deftly manicured guitar solo from Ziskin redolent of vintage Steely Dan takes over in the extended outro. That leads into "Why Can't Now Be Our Time," burnished by brass accents that recall the Chicago of  "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" Subtly yet vividly, the track evokes an ill-timed romance in the Boston winter, as the horns suggest bare limbs standing vigil over a snow-covered expanse.

It closes out with McRae scatting in the manner of Ella Fitzgerald, a hint of hopefulness in the gesture. It's rare to find such a juxtaposition of raw emotion and refined musicality in contemporary music—but then, McRae is not your everyday contemporary artist. She began writing these songs during the two years she spent at Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music, which had awarded her a scholarship to study songwriting after an audition during which she sang one of her originals and Don Henley's "Heart of the Matter."

Additional song ideas came to her during the summer of 2006, while she toured Central and South America as the keyboardist and backing vocalist for Latin superstar Christian Castro. By the time she returned home to Boca Raton, Fla., where she lives with her father, Hilary possessed the material and the self-belief to take the next step. "I got to a point of deciding whether I was going to focus on songwriting or performing," she recalls, "so I went to my dad and said, 'Listen, I really want to try to do something with these songs, and I want to do it as an artist.'

He was very generous in his response, and what started out as a Christmas present got a little out of hand. Because of his support, it turned into something really great -- something beyond my wildest dreams." She then called on her friend Ziskin. They'd met when Hilary, then 16, was preparing to record her first set of demos as half of a duo, and Ziskin, a skilled guitarist and aspiring producer, recognized the immensity of her raw talent and eagerly took on the project. "Zach has been such an inspiration to me over the years." When they reunited on the album project, Ziskin's overarching vision brought another dimension to the material, but retaining the girl-at-the-piano torchiness that is the album's heart and soul. "Zach saw what it could be from the beginning and knew how to convey it musically," she says. McRae describes the players -- starting with the ace of rhythm section, handpicked by Ziskin, of bassist Fernando Perdomo and drummer Derek Cintron -- as "musical gurus who know everything about everything.

Fernando and Derek are two of the most talented and genuine people I know," she says. "I've learned so much from playing music with these guys and from working with Zach


Debut album "Through These Walls" released in all Starbucks stores and available everywhere records are sold.