Immersed in sophisticated jazzy soul-pop sensibilities and refreshing, colorful sonic textures, Hannah Baiardi beautifully steps outside her comfort zone.
The Ann Arbor vocalist-composer and pianist provides a calm, soulful reassurance to embrace our authentic voice and rediscover our true calling on her latest hopeful single, “Reason.” It’s her first new material since releasing her genre-bending album, Straight from the Soul, in March.
“There’s a lot of weight on our shoulders right now, but it’s also a very inspiring time. Lightworkers are individuals who come with a purpose and are very driven to make social change and be their true selves and not hide their identities out of fear or shame,” Baiardi said.
“I was blown away when I got responses from other musicians saying, ‘Hey, that really resonated with me and made me feel like you’re standing up for the underdog.’ That’s totally my whole MO, even from being in high school and resonating with clique-busting and trying to be a friend to the friendless.”
Throughout “Reason,” shimmering piano, spirited drums, luminous slide guitar, fervent finger snaps, smooth electric bass and Baiardi’s confident vocals drench listeners in a sultry, protective dreamscape while inspiring a renewed, united social consciousness.
Once inside her encouraging, hypnotic sonic realm, Baiardi thoughtfully sings, “You never fit in/Stood out from the crowd/You waited you turn/Took courage to speak out loud/But now’s your time/You have to see/Your worth.”
“If someone feels alone or thinks it’s a really tough period of time … know there are others out there who see them and want to champion them. We’re all in this mess together while riding the waves. Water and waves are a theme in the song, and I’m trying to incorporate more sounds with nature and more sounds that evoke a feeling of tranquility,” Baiardi said.
Baiardi magically creates a peaceful “Reason” atmosphere with producer Marty Gray and bassist Ryan King of Stormy Chromer. Together, Baiardi and Gray spent two to three months recording the track in the studio for a late summer release.
“The rough melody and rough sketch of the lyrics came over a couple of weeks. The magic really happened when I brought it to Marty, and I was introduced to him through a mutual friend, David Magumba,” Baiardi said.
“We knew each other from the University of Michigan, where we were both students. Our paths didn’t really cross because he was a vocal major and I was a jazz major. We got together to work on this track, and instantaneously there was this sense of creative synergy. I came with the bones and left with a wonderful song, thanks to Marty.”
Baiardi also translates “Reason” into a gray-tinged lyric video filled with placid, flowing waters. While watching the video, viewers float above and reflect on their personal challenges as snippers of white light permeate the screen.
“The grayness of it conveys the uncertainty of the murky waters that we’re in right now. My social media manager Melissa (Zhuang) played a huge role in helping me craft that, and she’s very adept with Adobe,” said Baiardi, who’s also working on a new video for “How Do You Want Your Love.”
“I was like, ‘Hey, we just need water and some gray, so run with it.’ I think lyric videos are powerful so that someone can contemplate as they’re watching the visual element.”
Dixboro House and ‘Lot Lot’
The clips feature several notable musical guests, including Marion Hayden (bass), Bill Lucas (flugelhorn), Karen Tomalis (drums, percussion), Matt LoRusso (guitar), Anthony Wyatt (alto sax), Brad Phillips (violin), King (bass) and Magumba (vocals).
“It was just a beautiful setting, and I’m kind of going for a semi Scandi feel with the whitewashed walls, the wood floors and the muted colors. It was just early spring at the end of March, and I had a great cinematographer I was working with. We weren’t able to have a live show, so that was our next best thing,” Baiardi said.
After releasing a new single and album, Baiardi is ready to return to the live stage and work on new material. She will perform Dec. 7 at Ann Arbor’s Blue LLama Jazz Club and continue to record several projects with Gray, including a few singles and a solo piano album.
“I’m really in the thick of dropping consistent singles up to an album again. It’ a deluge of creative downloads, and I’m in full-blown writing mode more than I’ve ever been in my whole life,” she said.
“I’m hoping to release my next single before the end of the year, and it’s called ‘Lot Lot.’ It’s a continuation of this new sophisti-pop direction, and it’s going to have a speak-themed chorus and feature Truth from the Good Vibes Only collective, bassist Takashi Iio and other all-star players.”