Premiere: Righter Presents A Portrait Of Vulnerability On Bad Art
Reflection is a messy endeavor, guiding individuals through the tangled webs of their consciousness, where the boundaries between clarity and confusion blur into disjointed harmony. In the supposed chaos of this introspective journey, however, lies the potential for profound understanding, fostering personal growth and allowing the emergence of new, bold insights. This intricate tapestry of self-reflection, though messy, serves as a transformative process, offering individuals the opportunity to untangle the complexities within and gain a deeper comprehension of their own being.
Within this nuanced assessment lies Bad Art, the debut EP from local singer-songwriter Righter which serves as a thrilling six-track collection offering lyrical and sonic exploration into the complex realm of self-discovery. Each track is a brushstroke in a larger canvas of introspection, unveiling the beauty in life’s imperfections even if that beauty can be obscured by frustration and turmoil. Compelling, tenacious, and ingenious all at once, this record is an immersive experience that rises above the station of personal expression, landing somewhere in the vanguard of emotional philosophy that can captivate any listener if given the chance. Set for release on Friday, October 20th, The Auricular is excited to premiere this EP today with an exclusive stream below as well as some further observations on the depths explored in this monumental record.
Righter is the recording alias of singer-songwriter Hannah Goad, previously a member of freak folk act Lili & The Dirty Moccasins as well as local supergroup Whatever Honey alongside Angelica Garcia and Ali Thibodeau, better known as Deau Eyes. In 2016, Goad released her debut record, Kinds, a stripped-down record that explored self-sufficiency in the face of solitude, carving out her own unique musical identity with strong prose and sharp melodies. Soon after, Goad began performing under the moniker Righter, exciting live crowds with her incisive sound that could cut through the atmospheric noise of any crowded venue. Session videos and streaming sets followed in the lead-up to the release of Bad Art, an album several years in the making that propels Goad into a new echelon of artistic expression with bold arrangements and impassioned performances.
The album kicks off with “Holiday,” a poignant introduction to Righter’s forceful vulnerability. A musical and lyrical dance with dynamics, this track peels back the layers of unfulfillment and how it can inform all aspects of life, from the way a relationship is perceived (“So many nights there was no room at all for me \ I thought your bedroom wasn’t one”) to how the evening sky appears (“So many nights there was no moon at all for me \ I thought New England must have none”). The scarcity of that lunar glow becomes a symbolic void, echoing the emptiness in a heart that feeds into the longing found within the song. That sense of belonging doesn’t stop at personal connection either — it reaches for inspiration, delight even, sentiments that never come. Instead, the song finds comfort in a desperate observation of a so-called respite (“Were the postcards I mailed marked vacation or hell \ ‘Cause this don’t feel like a holiday”).
The music rises to the occasion, offering a delicate melody that transforms into a forceful revelation, mirroring the way an innocent night gaze can somehow become a profound personal epiphany. That revelation breaks through on the breathtaking bridge, an unforgettable moment of vocal anguish that’s amplified by the pounding rock fury that cements the emotional gravity of the song. “Holiday” previously made an appearance in the RVATRACK video series back in 2019, though this album version is much more nuanced and resonant, offering up an aching track that only scratches the surface of the emotional turmoil ahead.
“Bad Art” follows with a more biting tone than “Holiday,” presenting a more direct approach that allows the raw emotion to probe even deeper. Small frustrations add up in this powder keg, showcasing the precarious nature of stability which can lead to involuntary emotional releases that inadvertently become a mantra for the unspoken battles within (“I feel like crying and I don’t know why”). Wit and candor are the tools of survival here. For every mishap and malaise, Righter confronts it with sardonic resilience, transforming pain and frustration into keen musical expression (It’s barely Tuesday and I’ve seen my whole life flash me — What a sight!”).
Musically, the song stays light and punchy to match the lyrical aim before succumbing to the mania in the bridge, a swirling descent that peers into the abyss of madness that life thrusts upon us with all its relentless aggravations. It may seem like hyperbole to some reading this, but the next time you rub your face in exasperation and sigh “How is it only Tuesday?”, you’ll find common ground with the mad plunge this song so deftly tracks.
The subsequent two tracks zero in on unsalvageable relationships, one burdened by a lack of trust while the other a futile exercise in emotional labor. In “Daniel,” the singer fixates on a promise of sobriety, not by some steadfast belief but instead a wish for sincere attachment (“I know that no one dies from toking \ But it just matters to me to have you hold me soberly”). “Square States,” on the other hand, yearns for any type of sincere attachment at all instead of transactional affection (“He came just seeking affirmation \ Came thinking it’s all free of charge”). In both instances, the songs address an inability to let go, walk away. But what that inability says in each situation is different. For “Daniel”’s sake, perennial hope leads to a repeated deception in a crushing cycle, laying bare the naïve and foolish aspects that need to be confronted and corrected. In “Square States,” it’s about asserting one’s value in an unbalanced relationship, reclaiming your power even if it means understanding how it slipped away in the first place.
That newfound assertion and wisdom lead directly into “Pusher,” the most pressing and affecting song on Bad Art which Righter approaches with poetic prestige and musical might. The song tells the story of indifferent medication, prescriptions that are written out of habit and compulsion rather than genuine care and interest (“Doling out dopamine – take the full dose \ I am just symptoms to look over”). It’s a stark account of remedial negligence that will cut too close to home for many, but can also resonate with people who feel they over-rely on external solutions for internal struggles. “Pusher” exposes the paradox of dependency while addressing the true toll it takes on the psyche, one that can ultimately numb someone into apathetic compliance ( “Am I just symptoms to look over? \ If it’s what I need, I guess I can take another”).
Goad approaches this sensitive subject matter with poise and caution within the song. At times, she walks a fine line between activism and advocacy, pushing back on the system at play (“What a business to say I’m unwell \ Don’t get to know me, just show me what you sell”) while still keeping the focus on her own personal account (“I was not made as I’m feeling lately So whose fault could it really be?”). The music follows this path too, beginning with a sparse impression before moving into an arousing stride. The pace doesn’t sustain throughout the entire song, resigning itself at the end to the same timbre as the opening, though it’s laden with the weight of experience and heightened awareness. It’s almost a concession that some type of remedy is needed, with the hope that the proper one will eventually come through, whether by a prescription or alternative means. It’s a somber moment, but one that still shines with assertion like the other songs that make up this bricolage of introspective exploration.
That assemblage becomes whole with album closer “Rolling Papers,” a touching survey of interpersonal dynamics that contains the most lasting lyric in the whole album. “You may well say that it’s the thought that counts / But I count too and you always count me out,” Goad sings with blithe yet aching delivery. After a record brimming with robust lyrical and melodic dynamics, it is this observation on recognition that leaves the most profound impression, as the lyrics ache with desperate sincerity. (“I’m coming over and I wish that I wouldn’t / You’ve got my number and I’m begging you lose it”). Closing the album out, it showcases the never-ending dance between vulnerability and strength when it comes to relationships, both external and internal. Discovering one’s voice differs from sustaining it, and the journey toward both is as ambiguous as the ever-shifting currents of life, a fact Bad Art emphasizes with artistic brilliance.
In its entirety, Bad Art serves as a masterful exploration of the human experience, fractured and imperfect, yet infused with creative joy and hopeful insight. Righter’s poetic prowess captures the ephemerality of joy, the persistence of sorrow, and the nuanced dance between connection and detachment. The album’s strength lies not only in its lyrical finesse but also in its ability to resonate with the listener’s own narrative, offering solace in shared vulnerability. Bad Art is not just an album; it’s a testament to the profound beauty found in life’s imperfect, messy, and achingly authentic moments, as well as the delicate strength needed to persevere through them.
Bad Art will be released to all streaming platforms on Friday, October 20th, as well as physical CDs which you can preorder now over on Bandcamp via this link. To keep up-to-date on future releases and shows, make sure to follow Righter on social media by clicking here.