Paper Blue Records
A Whole Bunch of Downright Honest, Heart-Piercing Songs Dipped in Southern Country From The Americana Quarter of London Town.
I can’t recall the last time I spun a new release and instantly froze, utterly memorized by the stirring, emotional vocals ringing out to me on the first track.
All the chores I’d planned to do whilst “givin’ it a first listen” on hold, before I knew it the whole album had played out in front of me.
I challenge anyone to resist the bewitching spell of this hauntingly powerful album from a South London based soulful, edgy Americana and Country Singer-songwriter, as she shares with us a painfully intimate and heart-tugging bunch of songs.
Indeed, as the title suggests, this is a confessional, brutally honest moment in time for Hannah White, finally finding her inner strength and bravely taking stock of some harrowing past struggles, serving up equal measures of suffering and optimism for better times.
A follow up to the much loved by RMHQ 2020 debut album, Hannah White & the Nordic Connections, yet it has all the feel of a rebirth, as it’s her first self-produced album, alongside her guitarist partner Keiron Marshall.
So onto that opening track: You Don’t Want Me. The intensely captivating vocals are delivered, in my humble opinion, with as much soul and heart as is humanly possible, evoking memories buried deep for many of us, remembering the pain of adoring that special someone who never felt the same way back. When Ms White hits the high notes, her desperation soars out.
It’s profoundly touching and perfectly accompanied by the echoes of soft rolling drums from Luca Wade, and the eery deep slow burning smouldering reverb of Keiron Marshall’s Duane Eddy-esq guitar, both adding reflective layers to the atmospheric quality of the track, whilst keeping the passionate vocals firmly in the spotlight.
Next song up has the feel of an antidote song; It Will Be Alright gently beckons us in with the delicately soothing, dancing Hammond hands of Lars Hammersland (a player from the Nordic Connections) with a softer, comfortingly simplistic old time feel: it’s an uplifting song despite balancing the joy that love can bring with some really dark tales woven into thought-provoking lyrics:
“My children, they cry before school
Where they learn to divide, to compete and be cruel
My neighbours, they do nothing but fight
Every night I hear cries as I turn out the light……
But he’s holding me saying it will be alright”
Optimism continues to build with Bluest Eyes, a twang-tastic opening; leading to a hooky Latin vibe and toe-tappin’ number, superior to many a Summer holiday smash hit and the soon to be released next single Broken Bird, which is a gloriously classy and classic Country piano driven nostalgic journey.
It is almost as if Hannah White is building up our stamina before she hits us with a courageous, most heart-wrenchingly magnificent song in Car Crash: the first single, which was poignantly released on International Women’s Day.
It’s the epitome of a mother’s abyssal desperation, recounting the bleakest of times when the artist was homeless with her son, arrested and faced the threat of being separated from him.
Her voice, fragile and vulnerable hits us with a full fist, there is no pretence here, we know this is has come from real life, real anguish:
“They want to take my baby
They want to take my child
I was only trying to feed him
No I wasn’t out there running wild”
Yet with each new play of this remarkable album, I’m noticing the scales are weighing heavier on the Sunnier side of the lane and thus I’m plucking the chirpiest, most spirit-raising and all-round oozing carefree happiness track for the top spot: the Good Stuff skips along at a breezy Country pace, the band gel together in harmony ( bass and BVs courtesy of Svein Henning Berstad ) A touching moment in the song is when doubt creeps in, is this joyful state to be short-lived?
“Smiling in the light when the dark is sure to come again
It’s harder now than it was then and it was hard back then“.
Keiron’s instant musical response to these words, a rare moment indeed when our attention is firmly diverted away from Ms White’s stunning vocals when he launches into a love-fuelled woozy guitar solo, surely an emotional reassurance that together everything is gonna be alright.
On that note Hannah is about to embark on a UK tour in May to coincide with the album launch.
This is bound to be one emotional road trip, but I’m in no doubt the crowd will be cheering her on to bigger and brighter days ahead.
If you are still unsure, just press play on the first track and you’ll see……….
Released 22nd May 2022
Review by Anita Joyce
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