Record Of The Week # 85

Lynne Hanson – Just Words

Canadian Lynne Hanson has been compared to Lucinda Williams and Mary Gauthier. That alone should be enough to grab your attention. For me it was one of those CDs that was so good it kept creeping back into the player. It certainly shortened a few long drives. I can now add she also reminds me of Mary Chapin Carpenter.

 The opening song on Just Words is “True Blue Moon”. It has all Carpenter’s tunesmith sensibility with a story about a failed relationship and her accumulated cynicism about love’s temporary nature – “happy ever after lasts as long / as a rainbow in June”. Despite her misery the melody is a real earworm and the band’s arrangement layered and slick.

just-words-cd-cover

“Long Way Home” has another great melody and an arrangement that hangs off a steady bass and drum rhythm. Her voice is expressive with an attractive range and timbre throughout. Maybe it’s the recurring theme of the unshakeable grief and longing for a departed lover that makes her vocals yearning and soulful. “Just Words” is about verbal bullying: a modern and topical subject. In alignment with the angry and raw message the sound has rousing yet eerie atmospherics with some discordant notes that amplify the tension. All this builds up to another great guitar solo from Kevin Breit. His CV includes playing with Rosanne Cash, Cassandra Wilson and Norah Jones.

 “Lollipops And Roses” chugs into life with a raw electric guitar playing chords that signal something menacing ahead. The lyrics spit out words like “bury me”, “bitter train”, “scrub away” and “feel her hate”. Hanson’s melancholy regret is sung over a swamp rhythm that’s so hot that you can imagine the walls sweating. The breadth of some of the album’s sounds is confirmed with “Would You Still” (love me, miss me, remember me etc.). This has a funky off beat emphasized by the percussion and M J Dandeneau’s brooding and masterly bass.

 The whole album hits a compelling groove as it dovetails voice, instrumentation and melodies into something quite special. This sounds like an Americana artist at the top of her game.

 

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