Take the famous quote ‘You don’t find love, it finds you’, alter the object to good music and the new album from Hannah Miller will cross your path. This release popped up from left field to my attention, displays all the credentials of that side of the music fence and will totally transfix those who fall victim to its predatory instinct. Losing yourself in the hypnotic indulgence of the record for forty minutes is no bad place to disappear for a few moments and we can all do with a little ‘me time' in this hectic world.
This album rarely changes gear, but enticingly finds that perfect groove to idle away those lazy summer evenings or seek warmer solace in colder times. Wrapped up in a raw package, the haunting vocals of Hannah match the astutely balanced musical background with a stunning equalising effect. It was of little surprise to learn that her life has revolved around the southern states of Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee as that gothic tendency that you associate with some aspects of the area’s musical heritage runs deep through the record.
The pivotal track on the album is ‘Promise Land’ and two versions of the song appear amongst the eleven offerings as a result of the piece being used in a documentary on the anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The alternative version to that which went viral on You Tube features Jason Eskridge on background vocals and possesses a stunning mix of spine tingling electric guitar and organ. While being a focal point and an introductory lead into the music of Hannah, any suggestions of a stand-out number should be shelved as this is a record epitomised by the entity concept.
Devouring the lyrics and surmising their meanings is one of the joys of listening to this record which joins several other releases in Hannah’s back catalogue. The album was recorded in her now hometown of Nashville and the Music City analogy is stretched to include the sound of Hannah which is at the crossroads point where folk meets Americana and indie. Hannah has worked closely with Mitch Dane on the making of this record with the pair undertaking co-writing duties on three tracks leaving the rest the sole domain of Hannah’s imagination. Lyrically the album peaks on the song ‘Leaving’ with the line ‘momma keeps a hand gun in her dresser drawer. Last night I took it out and I knelt down on her bedroom floor’ which closes a dark view of family disharmony.
The record opens with the mystique sounding track ‘Help Me Out’ which eases into the second song ‘Fighting’ with its hidden soul. ‘You Don’t Call’ tackles the eternal subject of loss and regret, while ‘Soothed’ if anything takes the delightfully sombre mood even deeper. On a record far from devoid of clever and absorbing hooks, the organ laced ‘Been Around’ offers the best example of chorus delight and is closely followed by the enticing tones of ‘Outside In’. ‘Watchman’ encourages your imagination to wander much in the same vein as the final track ‘You Will Stay With Me’ which just leaves the Chernobyl version of ‘Promise Land’ to close this thoroughly enchanting album.
There is always something special about self-titled records suggesting an artist in a state of introspective reflection and Hannah Miller’s effort emerges as splendidly dark, absolutely alluring and stunningly simple. Its lyrical sparseness, raw undertones and sultry gleam make it a record of genuine appeal and one that fate may have played a hand in delivering it to me.