Hannah In The Wars Delivers Lush Sweetness Through Debut Album
Hannah (in the wars) has had an epic journey to reach London… coming from the remote region of Central Otago, apparently the coldest, driest place there is in New Zealand, and eventually finding her way to the marvelous melting pot of London.
Luckily this new project of Hannah’s, (working alongside The Cure’s Roger O’Donnell and a carefully picked group of musicians), is neither cold nor dry, and the Kate Bush-y vocalisations of the first song immediately draw me in. Lovely arrangements of voices and instruments and a catchy repetitive chorus of ‘Burning through the night’ ensures that this one will be on a loop in my head for at least the next month or two.
The following nine songs are all equally as accomplished and sweet sounding on a musical level as the first. The layering of sound and the combination of an orchestral drummer, strings, piano and synth, and those beautiful vocals hide a much darker lyrical side. I sense a fair amount of personal struggles coming across, and a certain degree of open-ness about grieving, loss, and the processes through which every living soul passes during times of personal pain and romantic endings. Song two ‘The Hunter’ is a polar opposite to the Slaves track of the same name. Delicate, floaty, ethereal sounding, I actually get shivers down the back of my neck listening to this.
Things get a bit more upbeat with ‘Rear View Mirror Baby’ again another ear-worm waiting to happen. The feeling of loss though is just overwhelming, and this is ramped up even more next on ‘Watch the Dog Grow Old Together’ a seriously candid and heartfelt one, vocals such as ‘crying a thousand tears’ really tugging at the heartstrings here. Following on ‘Sweet Release’ goes a little bit love child of Kate Bush and Florence Welch brought up in the bleak plateau between two snow-capped mountains. And ‘Only Wanna Be’ continues in a similar vein, such exquisite vocals, with the occasional New Zealander drawn out vowel sounds coming across, which makes it even more pretty sounding.
‘Like a Stone’ is probably the one that grabs me the least, although still very lovely, it seems to be a slight lull in proceedings. Which doesn’t matter in the slightest when it’s followed up by the lushness of ‘Infidel’, never heard so much sweetness melting into that particular word before, it’s normally being barked out on the News at Ten accompanying scenes that some viewers might find disturbing.
Penultimate track ‘Lay Your Hands’ seems more of a melodic interlude than a full song and at only 2 minutes 20 seconds it almost ends before it begins. Almost a little bit spiritualised sounding. It leads quite neatly into final song ‘Dark Summer Dawn’ which goes up a key or two and is a divine end to a glorious album of folky story telling. The picked out refrain reminds me of an early morning summer shower pattering onto the window in the half-light of dawn, waking thinking it’s a work day then realising it’s the start of the six week break. And I could easily lay in bed listening to Hannah in the Wars on repeat for the whole of the holidays. Lush.
To find out more about Hannah In The Wars click here.
To visit the Hannah In The Wars Facebook page click here.
Words by Mary Long