When you let go of past experiences and traumas, there’s no physical reward that comes with untangling from that iteration of yourself. Instead, the release can be quantified with an immeasurable sense of relief from within, manifesting in a deep exhale as you move on. Big Sigh, the fourth studio album of original material from Marika Hackman, is an anthology of, as the songwriter notes, “sadness, stress and lust” and became “the hardest” record she’s made over her decade-long career. In delving into this past life, Hackman candidly colours the work with the blues of feeling overwhelmingly isolated in a relationship on ‘Hanging’: “Hanging on your every word / And anytime you talk the rope is burning,” but counters that with the metallic glow of expansive synths on the mesmeric ‘Vitamins’.
Furthermore, Hackman sets her storied songwriting to a broad palette of grunge-inflected bursts of impassioned guitar and vocal performances (‘No Caffeine’, an instant highlight, and ‘Big Sigh’) and sparse instrumentation where Hackman is accompanied by weighted and emotive piano motifs. Sometimes, too, the piano alone effectively conveys the mood on the beautiful instrumental ‘The Lonely House’. The contrasting sonic sensibilities capture the process of feeling stuck in a hopeless space right to the point where she unexpectedly (but determinedly) bursts through its barriers. Big Sigh is a testament to Hackman’s evolving artistry.