Album Review: Eliza Hull - 'Here They Come'

1 December 2023 | 9:00 am | Mary Varvaris

Eliza Hull remains an essential voice in Australian music, championing the voices of creative people with disabilities.

Eliza Hull

Eliza Hull (Credit: Nick McKinlay)

Anyone who’s witnessed Eliza Hull sing knows her power as a performer. Earlier this year, she performed the single Running Underwater at the not-for-profit One Of One industry breakfast for women in music.

For anyone who’s seen her sing that song and speak about its meaning, it’s not a moment you’d forget anytime soon. She held the audience in the palm of her hand – tears flowed throughout the Forum Theatre in Melbourne as Eliza Hull put her stories on display. That experience stayed with me as Hull’s new EP, Here They Come, played through the speakers.

Here They Come is a five-track collection of intimate, piano-based recordings with moments of percussion – drums, foot stomps, and hand claps providing a poppier element to songs that could be considered sparse.

On the tender track Island, co-written with Sophie Payten (better known as Gordi) and recorded with ARIA Award-winning producer Pip Norman (Baker Boy, Missy Elliott), Hull makes “running round the echo chamber” sound charming – it’s yet another mark of her superb storytelling. The song is complimented by the music video directed by Nick McKinlay (Jen Cloher, Julia Jacklin), in which Hull used a mirror to represent the theme of visibility “as it follows me around, even in the most natural of settings.

“For me, it represents the feeling of being on show. Working with Nick was such a wonderful experience; he has an incredible way of capturing the song's essence.” On the title track, Hull discusses the walls she built to protect herself from getting hurt, with said percussive elements elevating the experience even higher.

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As well as her lyricism and musicianship, praise should also be reserved for Hull’s vocals, in which she croons, tries to hold back anguish, yodels, floats and soars across each track. Her vocals are stunning throughout, and somehow, she finds a way to stretch herself even further on the studio recording of Running Underwater.

Running Underwater shows a dramatic transformation in how Hull approaches her music, both sonically and lyrically. Finally living her truth, she is expressing the realities of living with a degenerative nerve disorder, which she hid for years.  

“For a long time, I hid my disability, especially in the music industry,” she explained. “This was due to the under-representation of disabled musicians, and I was constantly shown that disability was a deficit or something that should be feared and hidden. It was such a heavy weight holding onto these beliefs; it was exhausting to constantly hide. 

“This song is about pushing up against society's view of disability; it’s about letting go of the fear and being authentic and true to myself and showing that it’s okay to be different.”

The best thing about Running Underwater is that you don’t need a press release to discuss the power of the song, but including her explanations serves to add to an already poignant song.

Here They Come is bookended by Stay and Lilac Dreams, the former featuring droning keys as the softest register of Hull’s holds it all together. “Stay with me tonight; I don’t want to lose you,” she sings in the mournful chorus. It’s heartbreaking and all too real.

Lilac Dreams also features some repetitive melodies as Hull sings, “Everybody’s saying it’ll all be fine/ Everybody’s saying it’ll all work out/ The pain never leaves you, but it’s nothing to them”. The harrowing admission of other individuals’ denial of what Hull faces in her own body hits hard, and it has to.

With Here They Come out today, two days before the International Day of People with Disabilities, Eliza Hull remains an essential voice in Australian music, championing the voices of creative people with disabilities. She amplifies her own and her peers’ voices, assuring the Australian music community that no creative person with disabilities is alone and won’t be left behind. And what a soundtrack to accompany her vital mission.

Here They Come is out now. You can listen to the EP via Eliza Hull’s Bandcamp page.