Reviews

Old HannahOld Hannah
Album: Iron And Wood
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 5
Website: http://www.oldhannah.com

Word is that Old Hannah are the brightest act to emerge from Ireland's roots music scene for many years. Now if I was to play the cynical card I'd say that i'd heard many a similar proclamation over my countless years of writing, and in the majority of cases the justification of those claims have proved to be nothing but wishful thinking. However, I might just make an exception in the case of this County Sligo quartet, as this small but perfectly formed "Iron & Wood" EP effortlessly straddles the great divide that encompasses folk, country, roots and bluegrass with a sparkling and seemingly effortless panache that really does bode encouragingly for a bright and creative future.

The obvious choice for the opening track of this release would be the title track itself, which is an uptempo and lively banjo and mandolin string-fest stomper … but I love the fact that they've gone instead for the slower but no less fun "West". This particular song is built around an old-timey shuffling beat, and takes on an almost Tom Waits-esque ambience with Lucie Crichlow's distinctive vocal resonance vying for centre stage with oddly at home 60's style electric guitar breaks and less frenetic mariachi horns. And as strange as that may all sound, believe it or not, it works marvellously well.

"Oh My Love" is almost stark by comparison. Thematically dark in mood, with Lucie's unique vocal set to wistful piano chords and sporadic brass, it emphatically showcases the other side of Old Hannah. They can get your feet moving, but they can also get your brain moving too. Following a more traditional folk roots direction, "Boats" is no less deserving of attention either. A bright acoustic picking tune, nicely contrasting male lead voice, languid 4 part harmonies, with subtle lapsteel insinuating it's way to the very core of the song. Old Hannah are masters at mood creation, that much is evident.

This self-released EP is indeed a very fine showcase for a clearly talented bunch of musicians, and it's no surprise to these ears that opener "West" has already achieved extensive national Irish radio play and secured the band sessions with RTE's John Murray and Arena shows. I'm guessing the trick now is to transfer the promise of these recordings into their first full-fledged album release, whenever that may be planned, and if they do so then their status as "one to look out for" will be assured.

Ken Brown
www.squarerootspromotions.co.uk

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