It’s thrilling to hear a singer for the first time that leaves the distinct impression on your consciousness they have the potential to rank among the finest singers of their generation. Brielle Von Hugel’s “Naked” sounds like the moment in some artist’s careers when their talents fully emerge for the first time and they begin blooming exponentially from that point forward. Her Season 11 semi-finalist appearance on American Idol was the first great peak of Hugel’s career, but she’s attracted ample notice for cover performances uploaded to her YouTube channel, lodged multiple appearances for television and press outlets. This talent runs through her blood. Von Hugel is the daughter of a doo wop singer and has been honing her instrument since a very early age. She’s only a little older now. This is one of the most on fire young singers you will likely hear in some time.
“Naked” is driven by nothing else but piano and the power of Von Hugel’s voice. Her power is two-fold. The first part is her lights out emotive power. Great singers can take any lyric and elevate it to scarcely imaginable dramatic levels, but they also manifest a connection with the material that pulls the listener deep into the cinematic experience. The second half of that power comes from her technique and vocal range. She’s able to push her voice to its furthest limits without betraying a hint of weakness and this is as much a result of natural gifts as it is mastery of technique. It’s mind-spinning to even imagine what limits Von Hugel can reach considering she’s so young. Another, but no lesser, facet of her talent is connected to technique. She knows exactly where to put her singing in context of the piano playing and molds her voice around the rise and fall of the music.
The piano is clearly following her voice as well. They lock in a simpatico dance, their focus never wavering, and eventually close listeners will note how this solo vocal performance works in counterpoint with the piano. They move together through the verses, crescendo quite nicely in unison, and find a very natural feeling ending. Von Hugel benefits, as well, from the lyrics. The main metaphor of the song gives it much of its potential, but there’s such a strong streak of vulnerability laced through the song that its audience will feel like it must be autobiographical. Von Hugel’s yearning is clear, but she ultimately sounds triumphant.
There’s a quality of permanence in this song that much in modern pop doesn’t offer. It feels quite natural, dares listeners with its intimacy, and has warm production that somehow places her voice and the piano in the same room with the audience. Brielle Von Hugel’s “Naked” is a truly naked performance, unadorned, free of pretension, and undoubtedly sincere. It promises that the upcoming EP release from her will earn many new fans and bowl longtime devotees over with her accelerating development.