The National frontman Matt Berninger has joined the Canadian alt-pop songwriter Hannah Georgas for a new rendition of her song “Pray It Away”. The original solo version of the track appeared on Georgas’ recent album, All That Emotion, which was produced by fellow National member Aaron Dessner and co-released on his Brassland label.
Georgas’ connection to The National began last year when she was brought on as part of their touring band in support of their 2019 album I Am Easy to Find. According to a press release, Georgas and Berninger became good friends on the road, but it wasn’t until this summer that they decided to link up and record a duet version of “Pray It Away”.
Instrumentally, the track is pretty similar to its subdued yet mesmeric original, but Berninger’s weary vocals give it a rich definition. His voice actually opens this iteration, but once Georgas enters, the contrast between her breathy, tender coo and his gravelly intonation is really quite beautiful. It turns out that Dessner actually co-wrote this song with Georgas, so in a weird way this is kind of like a quasi-National track. Take a listen below.
In a statement, Georgas explained that the lyrics for “Pray It Away” are about a troubling family issue her friend was dealing with:
“She told me over dinner one night that a family member didn’t want to attend her wedding because she was marrying a woman,” Georgas said. “I wrote the song the next day using the chord progression from Aaron’s demo. It was upsetting to see my friend go through what she was dealing with at a time where she should have been celebrating.”
All That Emotion is out now via Brassland and Arts & Crafts. In other National news, last month Berninger released his debut solo record, Serpentine Prison, produced by the legendary Booker T. Jones. And earlier this year, Dessner earned a production credit for a little-known-artist named Taylor Swift.