The Canadian singer-songwriter refers to her sound as "porch music with a little Texas red dirt", which essentially translates as an Ottawa Lucinda Williams with a pinch of Gillian Welch. Four albums in, sharing credit with her band, this is her first EP, a seven track collection of murder ballads and songs of revenge, released, appropriately, on Halloween.
Musically, fuelled by slide and electric guitars, a heady Southern blues mood dominates, opening with junkyard clanking groove of "Gravedigger", a tale of two murdered drifters etched out with organ and hammered anvil which lead on to the creeping slurry of "Water's Edge", evoking similar mood to Ben Glover's "Blackbirds" as the protagonist talks of how she's burying her two timing husband in the Mississippi mud, acknowledging she'll meet her reckoning on the other side.
Co-penned by producer Lynn Miles, the steady paced "My Mama Said" keeps the brooding atmosphere as a cold blooded killer ("born with the devil in me, dark urges fill my thoughts") awaits the gallows in their death row cell to the sound of bells and rumbling guitars. Things get starker, both musically and lyrically, for "Cecil Hotel", a sparse guitar and lonesome horn underpinning an account of a red dirt farmer who, brought to desperation by drought, shot dead the banker looking to repossess the farm and, on the run, now lives in the shadows and hole sup at the titular hotel with the junkies, whores and vagabonds, a bible and a shotgun by his bed.
A loping rhythm and clanking percussion resurface for "Black Widow", its sleazy groove carrying the tale of the titular five time Northern Belle husband killer, "Raven hair, long green dress, red lined lips, rose tattoo above her breast", as she prepares to off number six, Hanson noting that "she sure looks good in the that long black veil."
The tempo is taken up several notches for the last two tracks, Lynn Miles co-write "Run Johnny Run" a swampy, itchy rhythm arsonist number driven by loose strung slide, Hanson again delivering with effective cool detached vocal. Things end with the 60s Dylanesque rock n roll flurry of "First One's Free", co-penned with Al Wood, Keith Glass's slide and Philip Shaw Bova's drums driving things along on a Mississippi tale of Peanut Charlie, sharp suits, cheap tattoos, card sharping and murder. Not the usual Hanson lyrical fare, perhaps, but it's still a, ahem, killer.
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