Lord knows the world of music these days needs a huge injection of new talent. Good new talent...really good new talent. I've had the priviledge, no, the thrill, of hearing some really good new talent lately.
My latest fix is Kristy Hanson and her brand new disc, 'Already Gone'.
This is her third indie album, and, as she says, the album she's dreamed of making. I say it's a dream of an album and well worth seeking out. Although Hanson has been compared to many a female singer-songwriter (and fairly so), to my ears her voice is closest to a-better-Jewel-than-Jewel, and her style is closest to a jazzed-tinged folk, a la Joni Mitchell. Now, throw into the mix just a bit of off-kilter delight, recalling Joe Henry or Lisa Germano or Tori Amos, and the result is a joy of a listen.
Ms. Hanson, though in her twenties, reveals an understanding and questioning of life that belies her age, and suggests experience and hard lessons learned.
By no means limited to a female audience, the fairer sex will certainly find empowerment in Hanson's lyrics, and we gentlemen will have no trouble identifying with her musings. There are so many quote-worthy lyrics here that I can hardly begin to list the ones that stand out for me. Little victories and "small tragedies"; knowing and yet clueless; traveling, just to finally get home; "sometimes there is just too much going on"; "if I have wisdom, it is this, make your life something you can live with"; "I think I've come to the point where I know who I am, but I'm scared I'll change"...my goodness, Kristy Hanson is a soul-searching, soul-touching, wonderfully expressive songwriter.
Co-produced by Hanson and long-time partner/bassist Mike Chiaburu, 'Already Gone' was recorded "live from the floor" (Hanson's vocals and guitar, Chiaburu's bass and Jay Bellerose' drums), each song in one take, with keyboards added after the fact. (There are no string credits in the liner notes or promo pack, so I'm assuming the small amount of well-placed "strings"
are synthesized.) The recording quality is very good, indeed! Mostly dry and right-in-your-face. You'd swear Kristy and the band are in the room with you!
Mastering of "Already Gone' is credited to the accomplished Gavin Lurssen ('O Brother, Where Art Thou?' soundtrack and Brandi Carlile's 'The Story'), and well deserved.
The arrangements are impressive, and round out an already impressive work: Hanson's vocals and excellent acoustic guitar playing are up front; Chiaburu's excellent acoustic bass playing (both plucked and bowed), counterpoint to the melody at times, simple and strong at others, up front yet not boomy at all; and Bellerose is obviously an accomplished drummer in any style, fitting each song just right. The previously mentioned "bit of off-kilter delight" comes through in some odd time signature and chord changes, some of the bass lines, an unexpected boom boom here and there, and particularly from keyboardist Patrick Warren's perfectly strange, spare additions to the base three-piece band.
Kristy Hanson has, indeed, pulled together her dream disc at last. She has obviously accomplished exactly what she set out to do. Whether you're most impressed by her voice, her world-wise lyrics, the quality of the recording, the arrangements, the instrumental talent, the foot-thumping, thigh-tapping beat of the up-tempo songs, or the introspection of the slower numbers, you will be impressed. Today's music needs more talent on par with Kristy Hanson and her endlessly engaging 'Already Gone'. Highly recommended!
('Already Gone' is available in "hold it in your hand"
digipak CD form from CDBaby.com and her website, and downloadable from her myspace page [see both below] and, soon to be, from iTunes.)