It’d be fair to say that Merival’s ‘Lesson‘ comprises of eight arrangements rather than songs. Her baroque waltzes indicative of an artist at play, resisting the modern-day pop song structures to fit in a classical mould occupied by Kate Bush and Joanna Newsom.
It’s telling of Toronto’s Anna Horvath, the inherently curious artist behind Merival. “One of the things I wanted to know was if every spot on earth that someone had walked on became visible, say, bright orange, would there be any spots that weren’t? How many? How big? Where?” She says of opener ‘Miles’s subject matter. And this naive, childlike contemplation, is porous in ‘Lesson’, both in her lyrical content and her structural approach.
Each Merival song unfolds like those headphones you were never quite able to untangle, the questions left unanswered, the conclusions never fully reached. It lends a storyteller-like quality to ‘Lesson,’ and also shows off Hovarth’s ability to mix theme with musicality – the notion that she’s very much ‘an unfinished product’ as a person coming across in her choice not to embellish the songs with more fully-developed endings.
Ranging from full-band numbers to raw, demo-like songs where you can hear the scrawl of her acoustic guitar, ‘Lesson’ is a heady trip.
Life can often seemed planned and thought out but in reality it’s often just our reactions to incidents and what we learn from each one. ‘Lesson’ is a magical, fantastical acknowledgement of that. The enchanting Bildungsroman of an everyday human, the magic in that growth more apparent as a listener from afar than a look in the mirror. A realist triumph.