Mara Hruby – From Her Eyes EP (2010)

A friend, I was told, just met his soul mate.

The backdrop to this modern love affair is a city said to never sleep. New York, je t’aime.

Almost theatrically, the scene is dimly lit. Composed of traditional brick walls and quirky chandeliers, the neo-rustic landscape carries an unassuming charm. But this is not a tale of aesthetic beauty. Indeed, our starlet radiates with an elegance fit for the stage, but tonight’s connection is completely aural.

It was on this night that my friend met Mara Hruby, an Oakland-bred talent whose allure draws listeners in on a level too personal to be disingenuous. It’s almost as if you know her without ever having actually met her. This effect was initially lost on my own jaded sensibilities. Informally introduced from afar, I quickly dismissed this 7-track EP with an unwarranted, yet understood skepticism. As the credits read, the project, aptly titled From Her Eyes, is comprised of the work of others—all of which I consider to be personal favorites. Premeditated murder is a fate oft-bestowed up many overlooked pieces of art and this was no different. As my finger was situated comfortably around the metaphorical trigger, I decided to hear her side of the story.

From Her Eyes.

As it was written before, this is an apt title, one in which I should have reflected upon further before allowing my own preconceived notions to run wild. From Her Eyes is a project seen through the lens of Mara Hruby. Despite using the vehicle of others, she manages to own these works and deliver a personal account of who she is—an original. This is her story.

Alright

To be frank, Jamiroquai is one of the most overlooked musical outfits to ever walk the Earth. I could expound upon their musical brilliance, but for the sake of brevity, let it be understood that they’re something special. So despite opening my ears, it was difficult to appreciate this at first. The electro-funk dynamic had been removed for a stripped down instrumentation, transporting the song to an entirely newfound musical space. In this minimalist form, Hruby explores a laidback buoyancy that would seem to be the cooler counterpart to Jamiroquai’s often spirited style.

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Send It On

As one of the great contemporary musical achievements, Voodoo’s structure was purposefully coarse—fuled by funk-inspired guitar play and the uncredited guidance of James Yancey. A derivative of this technical feat was a blunt sexuality, unmatched by any other. Such lustful overtures have been replaced with the unremitting tenderness of Hruby. This is a song now driven by the soothing textures of the vocalist, at hand. With a subtleness not quite obtained by the former, our leading lady delivers a gentle moment of sensuality.

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The Panties

There’s something to be said about the ease with which Hruby flipped the Tom Brock-sampling Mos Def classic, “The Panties.” The song has been a staple of the “late night hours” playlist for quite some time now, but it seems to have a markedly different trajectory under the auspices of Hruby. Despite its salacious subject matter, there is a certain innocence, almost playful, projected from her performance. This is the imaginative spirit of Mara Hruby at work. Injected into this sublimely erotic fantasy is a moment of honesty.

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These are just a few selections from the diary of Ms. Hruby. While my evocations of “love” or any sort of romanticized encounter are facetious in nature, there is an undeniable connection found through her work. Even when not performing original material, she reimagines in the place of replication. This is only effective if done on a personal level. And that is ultimately why so many people have vibed with her music. As a listener, we can sense when an artist is, as the great hip-hop wordsmiths once wrote, “fakin’ the funk.” More often than not, this seems to be the popular frequency found within modern entertainers. So when an artist comes from a place of sincerity, it is nearly impossible for us to ignore. What the future holds for Mara Hruby, I am not sure, but I guarantee that it will be completely authentic.

You can find From Her Eyes .

Written By: Paul Pennington

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