The Student News Site of Webster Schroeder High School

Webster Schroeder Courier

  • May 13 / Baseball VarsityWebster Schroeder High School - 8, Brighton - 0
  • May 13 / Softball VarsityWebster Schroeder High School - 10, Honeoye Falls-Lima - 0
  • May 13 / Unified Basketball Varsity BLUEWebster Schroeder High School - 48, Fairport 1 - 44
  • May 13 / Unified Basketball Varsity GOLDWebster Schroeder High School - 42, Fairport 2 - 26
  • May 10 / Lacrosse Varsity GirlsWebster Schroeder High School - 6, Penfield - 18
  • May 9 / Lacrosse Varsity BoysWebster Schroeder High School - 12, Greece - 2
  • May 7 / Golf Varsity BoysWebster Schroeder High School - 223, Pittsford Sutherland - 201
  • May 7 / Tennis Varsity BoysWebster Schroeder High School - 3, Victor - 4
  • May 6 / Flag Football VarsityWebster Schroeder High School - 20, Hilton - 7
The Student News Site of Webster Schroeder High School

Webster Schroeder Courier

The Student News Site of Webster Schroeder High School

Webster Schroeder Courier

Hana Bryanne Stole My Journals

An Album Breakdown/Review of Dollface

Indie starlet, Hana Bryanne, also known as Hana McElroy, released her debut album, Dollface, in September 2023. The pop-folk, country blend acts as a, love letter to your younger self, whilst chronicling her experiences of “loss and suicide and r*pe but most of all … optimism.”

I stumbled upon Bryanne’s music through one of her peers—multi-talented musician, podcaster, author, Eliza McLamb. McLamb shared one of the album’s singles, Susannah at the Wedding, to her Instagram story and immediately I was drawn to the realness of the track; it was as if Bryanne had smuggled my journals in the dark of night and put it to song. 

The record is a feat of emotional vulnerability. A society-dubbed “Sad Girl” album/anthem, the record is consistent in its sadness, just with varying degrees. There’s typically not a “light at the end of the tunnel” impact on such albums, that’s not what they’re artistically conveying, nor does society want to look on a deeper level.. 

Bryanne takes the “sad girl” personna and smashes it on its head by expressing her pain but not fully wallowing—it doesn’t consume the record whole but instead plays a part in the journey. It’s like therapy: recognizing your pains, releasing them, and working towards/holding out hope for things to progress into sunnier territory. With musical influences such as Leonard Cohen, Alex G, and Indigo De Souza mixed with her childhood songwriting influence of Taylor Swift, listeners can hear the pieces of Bryanne that captivate her 25.2k Spotify monthly listeners.

The first two tracks of Dollface establish the foreground of how Bryanne lived her life with mental health issues while the third single in the album rollout, “Dollface,” acts as the titular track & delivers one of the major conflicts discussed, Bryanne’s assault. The rumination-derived melancholy acts as sister to similar songs like Phoebe Bridgers’s, “Savior Complex,” or Lorde’s, Solar Power album, in its almost “elongated monologue” feel. 

Bryanne took to her Talkhouse account to talk about her songs’ origin. She speaks on how the patriarchy and forums like Snapchat, Instagram, and Tumbler mix to infiltrate and act as a detriment to young girls’ lives. Behind our screens is a black hole vortex that is a siren call to the need for validation. In one of her posts, Bryanne writes “Somebody wanted me, I was going to let him” —a line that mirrors itself within “Dollface”: “And he’s going to want you, and you’re gonna let him.” 

Online, there’s a culture in which individuals view women’s posts as inherently sexual and often engage in efforts (or harassment) to seek out more (“Come on. It’s just one photo. I won’t share.”). Some girls in turn may feel pressured to give in and “do their sexual duty” for validation. Sexualizing oneself, let that be via a post on Instagram or in a private DM, acts as a transactional deal to impressionable young minds, which fuels the continuation. 

“Dollface” holds a double meaning, it starts to tell the gruesome tale of sexual assault. Starting with your attacker’s grimacing entrance, “With a joint in your teeth/and a smile underneath,” redefining and reeling from this change in relationship/stance with your attacker post assault, (friends to foe? Stranger to ruinous stranger?), “There’s a joke i’ve been dying to tell you,” Asking yourself, society, the universe why they did it,  (He’s going through a lot and doesn’t know what to do with it), “I’m a conduit for all your ambition”, and finally the aftershock and realization your inner child has been poisoned and dying, your a child whos felt like they’ve died, whilst crushed under societies previously mentioned dialogue, “Still keep your face in a locket/Just a kid who would dance on her toes.”

Bryanne emphasizes the patriarchy’s role as the root of validation when she sings “could’ve been an actress if I’d just fixed up my teeth,” a line that is familiar to anyone who has encountered a predator. Beauty expectations can infiltrate one’s internal dialogue which feels impossible to combat. Young girls may then find themselves thinking“No harm. I’m just sending one photo” (It’s just making that childhood title of “maturity” fit. This is what adults do.), when women muster the courage to set healthy boundaries, they may still find themselves unknowingly giving in, thinking things like “Oh, it’s rude. I can’t block him.” Society goes as far to purport that women have different rules than men and must take responsibility for their actions which amounts to victim-blaming: “Don’t walk at night…Don’t entice them…you shouldn’t have worn that skirt…” 

Spades follows similar themes as “Dollface” in having your inhibition taken away and reeling, not from assault but from reality. Building from a dainty dream of a beat to one that packs the punch of sad anger; almost as if Sarah Tudzin produced a track for The Japanese House.

It’s human nature to build up our expectations for something and have them fall flat. Let it be the hopes for a first kiss ripped straight from the first draft of The Notebook (2004) or a first date with the hottest person under the sun that ends with your Americana dream life. Rumination and dissection slips into your mind before and after these highly anticipated events occur, “Hot was the taste of your breath in my mouth…Will you touch me the way I planned it/Did you get what you came for?” 

With its Susannah Joffe meets Julia Jacklin angst, the second to last track on the record, “News,” is the gear shift towards the release of pain. The chorus, instead of being a densely-populated confessional, is an echo chamber for one singular thought, “I’m betting the news is good/I’m betting the news is just fine.” This dialogue, just reading it on paper, seems like she’s been healed completely and is off being truly happy and untraumatized in some strawberry field under the summer sun, but with Bryanne’s delivery and surrounding lyrics, the tune has the same energy as one’s therapist, through the Zoom screen, trying to drill into their depression-rotted mind that all will be well again, they “just need to make it through.” 

With “News” tale of trying to accept oneself, it is important to understand where Bryanne started. In an earlier track, Visions, Bryanne details her life living with mental illness. “Visions” logs the feelings of losing oneself to surroundings. 

Even when in a relationship with seemingly the best person ever, that doesn’t mean they’re the right person in this given moment. When struggling internally, another person can’t whip out a miraculous cure reminiscent of Mary Poppins regardless of how much someone wants to believe. Bryanne sings “and I blew half of my paycheck just to get to your place/I just can’t stand to be alone these days”—sublimation never works in such cases. The song goes further sharing how even when one’s gut knows it’s wrong to stay in the relationship, “Got an awful vision of you in the fall/tending your resentment, letting it grow so tall/I begged you not to visit/never was an option, knew you’d hate what you saw.” A person can’t give what you need, they cannot alleviate your mental anguish.

Dollface Reprise wraps up Bryanne’s pocket full of songs as well as continuing the titular track’s tales of assault. Laying herself bare for her songbook, this simple acoustic holds the same energy as a living room open mic and the gravitas you feel when the crowd goes silent. 

Going from this sunken place state, “I tell the story in second person but I was there,” to “I moved to the city where I learned boys were easy/you’re always living through it til you remember not to care,” Bryanne shows you can overcome the trenches of hopelessness and find reasons to not just survive, but live.

She’s, “got a good thing goin’,” a line used here as well as Bryanne’s hit “Klepto.”* While in “Klepto” this line is used in this sarcastic manner, pairing it with, “wearing holes in my shoes,” stating how she’s made “peace” with the uncomfortable. she truly means it seeing she’s reached the horizon; she just has to, “live a little longer/Just gotta live,” a hopeful message that contagiously uplifts listeners.  

Continuing its trajectory of gifting stepping stones away from despair the rest of Dollface, chronicles several more soul-crushing experiences: Mental health hospitalization in “Valentine’s Day”, breaking up with a romantic partner and in turn losing yourself as well as them to new lives in “Cool Girl Song.” “Lake Michigan illustrates Bryanne’s contemplation of where her life is in regards to the threshold that is her dreams. “Susannah at the Wedding,” is about dreaming to be different and healthy as well as doing anything to obtain those feelings. “Clementine”/ “Clementine II” details the complex relationship that is mother and daughter. 

Bryanne grew up doing dance & musical theater with music being part of her life’s framework. With Panic! at the Disco & Bleachers being her middle-school soundtrack as well as Norah Jones, Bruce Springsteen, & Joni Mitchell being some of her current favorites.

Taylor Swift acted as the bridge between her passions for music and songwriting. In Conversation with Chelsie Derman from The Signal, Bryanne credits her power of emotional vulnerability and use of personal stories to Swift, “[Swift] taught me no emotion is too small…the things that you didn’t think were trivial at sixteen that you now look back on and you’re, ‘oh, come on, that really wasn’t that big of a deal.” Bryanne continues to credit Swift in Baylie Raddon’ article for Berkeley B-Side, “I don’t think that if I hadn’t been, like, such a fan of hers, that I ever would have written a song…. Loving her music gave me an outlet that felt all my own, and so, that transformed into songwriting.” 

*Bryanne garnered internet attention back in late 2020/early 2021 when she posted a video of her song, “Klepto,” on TikTok garnering a total of 107.9k likes. Back when the video was released it was just some lyrics being workshopped but the jump from 2000 to 100,00 views overnight and the high demand pushed her to turn it into a full fledged tune which you can stream here


Image Sources

Web: Nothing But Hope And Passion

Instagram: @jonimitchell, @sweetadelineenet, @leonard_cohen_unofficial, @norahjones, @taylorswift, @indigofaraway, @springsteen

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Avalon M., Staff Writer & Photographer
Avalon M. is a senior at Webster Schroeder. In school she's involved in Yearbook, Varsity Radio, Lacrosse, D.R.E.A.M, and Key Club. Outside of the school, she enjoys writing and making short films and movies. She's excited to write and take photos for the Schroeder Courier this year.