CD Review: Branik “Why Not?”

Singer-songwriter Hillary Branyik had a dream of completing her studies at Berklee School of Music where she was studying Voice. However, that dream was put on hold when she needed to have surgery on her vocal cords. Eventually, she would change directions but not her goals and she began writing her own music that was largely influenced by the likes of Third Eye Blind, Stevie Nicks, Michelle Branch, Mazzy Star. Today, Hillary Branyik (who performs under just her last name of Branik) is acknowledging what she has accomplished despite some setbacks as she celebrates the release of her first EP, a four-song release entitled Why Not?

Along with her talents as a singer, Hillary Branyik also plays the guitar. That instrument gives her music some shape, but it is only part of what gives her music life.

To help bring out the full potential of what her music could be Hillary Branyik is joined by several other musicians. To fill out the sound of Branyik’s music, the rest of the instrumentation was provided by: Electric Guitar by Marton Bisits, Drums by Matt Musty, Bass & Acoustic Guitars by Benjamin Kopf, with Piano by Hillary Reynolds and Cello by Trevor Jarvis. Along with providing Piano and Cello to the release, Hillary Reynolds and Trevor Jarvis of the band Peridot (which also contains electric guitarist Marton Bisits) also helped to produce the release. Together, Branik and the rest of the musicians have combined their talents to create the Why Not? EP. 

Why Not? by Branik begins with the track “Still”. The track features a Pop/Rock feel to the music with more of a stressing on the Rock part of the style. In fact, the track seems to bring to mind some influence from Michelle Branch as both the music and the lyrical content recalls that artist’s style. But no matter what, the track would fit right in on today’s Top 40, Hot A/C radio formats. With the electric guitars on the track even give the song a musical approach that would also have been right at home on Pop/Rock or Top 40 radio back in the eighties. The lead-off track of “Still” is just the thing to begin the EP as it will give fans of commercial Rock music just what they’re looking for.

The underlying eighties influence on the track “Still” returns even stronger on the second track of the release. The second track on the EP is called “Nine Nineteen” and the song brings the influence from the eighties out even more. In fact, the track would be right at home among such eighties staples such as Heart, Cyndi Lauper, Belinda Carlisle even Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles. “Nine Nineteen” has slower and easier pace to the music. The extremely commercial feel to the music of the track mixed with the slower pace to the song brings to mind a love ballad from the eighties that would have been featured in the background of a movie such as “Pretty In Pink” “Sixteen Candles” or any other movie that had a light-hearted feel to the comedy. The track’s playtime of less than three minutes makes it perfect for inclusion on any Rock-based radio format.

For the next track, Hillary Branyik and the rest of the musicians who help to bring her music to life slow things down. The track “Pray For You” contains the same type of passionate feel to the music as was found on the previous track of “Nine Nineteen” but with a little less of the romantic feel to the lyrics. Where “Still” shows a romantic side to the singer-songwriter, the song contains more of a caring side to her as she states that she will pray for the person in question. The slow, easy feel to the music also contains a slight orchestral feel because of the inclusion of the cello in the background as well as the electric guitar which add to that orchestral approach.

Why Not? by Branik comes to a close with the track “Nightmare”. For this track, Hillary Branyik and the rest of the musicians bring the energy level of the music up just a little. The result is a track with a Folk-Rock feel to the music that brings to mind the music of Avril Lavigne. Much like “Pray for You” before it, the track contains a rather laidback approach to the music, but at the same time has a more energetic delivery than “Pray for You”. The track’s easy feel makes for the perfect musical approach to bring the four-song release to a close.

For a first release, the four-song release of Why Not? release by Branik finds the singer-songwriter creating a very commercial release and it shows off the singer-songwriter’s various influences rather well. It also gives the listener a strong indication that future releases from the artist should be just as entertaining.  

For a taste of the music from Hillary Branyik and her onstage personality of Branik, check out the acoustic version of the song “Still” HERE  

The Why Not? release by Branik can be found on Soundcloud. She can also be found on Spotify