Hannah Kaminer “Heavy on the Vine”

Bruce & Neville Records, 2024

Sweet melodies and moving words on this very satisfying third album.

Album cover artwork for "Heavy on the Vine" by Hannah KaminerThe weather in the UK has either been chillier than normal or biblical rainfall but then along comes this wonderful new third album from Hannah Kaminer to help us beat those winter blues. It is full of sweet sounds, great singing and expertly crafted words with great humanity which draw you in and then move you.

Kaminer has been likened to Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss, but there are also echoes of Courtney Marie Andrews in her music. This centres on her beautifully clear voice which is accompanied superbly by low-key steel guitar, piano, keyboards, acoustic guitar, fiddle, violin, bass and drums. Her songwriting is very impressive; there are no weak tracks with all having great melodies that stick in your head.

Although most of the tracks are about inner emotional life, the album starts strongly with ‘Asheville’ where Kaminer complains about the gentrification of her hometown near the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and not being able to afford to live there: “We shouldn’t have to choose/Between the place that we call home/And paying our bills”.

The next song ‘Broke Down Girl’ deals with the difficulties in relationships where the singer, driven by “alcohol and loneliness” is diving headlong into a bad relationship: “You look like my next step/On this highway to destruction”. In ‘Whisky Straight’ Kaminer uses the idea of wanting her liquor undiluted as a really nice analogy of wanting real love, not something watered down. The swinging country-soul of ‘Irene’ has the singer exasperated at not getting as far as she would like with a prospective lover, whose eyes are glued to her phone.

However all this turmoil is balanced by the moving ‘The Has-Been’ where a woman declares her love for her long-term partner who is looking old in the mirror, but who has stood by her through thick and thin “Honey let me be your mirror/ To show you truth that you can’t see/A man with gentle eyes/ Who presses into pressing needs”

Kaminer says that she was thinking a lot about estrangement during the writing of the album. ‘Everlasting Arms’, which initially seems like a break-up song, is about her loss of faith and estrangement from God, with Kaminer giving it a deliberately hymn-like feel to mirror the subject. Linked to this, perhaps, is ‘Childish Things’ where she is moving away from the obedience of her childhood: “Here comes the sermon; don’t question me/ Better be silent if you can’t agree”‘Wish We Could Talk’ continues the estrangement theme, being seemingly about a friend or relative, rather than a lover, not seen for many years.

 ‘Heavy on the Vine’ has Kaminer in a reflective mood, being a poignant tribute to her hero, folk singer Kate Wolf, who died young at the age of 42. Here she spells out the important things in life and links this to not having time to enjoy them in the catchy ‘Time’s Too Short’ with its great keyboard and piano.

This is a very satisfying set of songs, which is very likely to be one of the albums of the year.


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harry kern

need to hear more of her …