Ottawa-based Lynne Hanson has just released ‘Just Words‘, her seventh album, produced by the much-respected Jim Bryson. For an artist who self-describes her music as ‘porch music with a little red dirt‘ it’s arguably her finest and most personal to date. Where Bryson may have broadened the sonic palette somewhat, Hanson is left to do what she does best – deliver songs that are much delivered from the heart as they are from the head. Straddling country and Americana, her’s is a style that is both gritty and emotive, with burgeoning melodies that burst from the songs. Over the years Hanson has built a sizeable fanbase across Canada and her visits to Europe have always been met with a more than favourable reaction. ‘Just Words‘ will undoubtably build on that hard-earned reputation and will certainly be one to consider come those end of year lists. Americana-UK caught up with Hanson, hunkered down in her Canadian home just to check in and see how she was bearing up.
So, how’s it going Lynne? I’m guessing not the album launch schedule you might have been anticipating?
I was just at the start of months of planned album release touring when the pandemic hit – I actually had to cut a European tour short and get back to Canada mid-March as borders were closing. So it’s been a bit of an adjustment for me to be staying-at-home rather than being in the tour van. After spending the first couple of weeks alternating between days spent communicating with agents and venues to reschedule or cancel shows and binge viewing Netflix while eating copious amounts of sugar, I’ve transitioned to trying to push myself to take at least some of this time to learn and expand my creativity.
I’ve been having some fun filming short videos and have created an ongoing “Quarantine Sessions” series on Youtube. These started out being song-a-day solo videos from my house, and have now progressed to “helpful” public service announcement skits. I don’t want to give away the plot but there are costumes involved, as well as blow up superhero dolls and stuffed animals. I’ve secretly wanted to be a standup comedian for some time now, so this seems like the perfect time to hone my craft.
I’ve also been trying to master technologies that I’ve managed to avoid up to this point in my career. For example, learning how to livestream without having the video be sideways or backwards. And spending time muddling through how to use recording software so that I’m not limited to recording using the voice memo application on my smartphone.
Now that the weather is finally getting nice here in Ottawa I’ve also been getting outside for a walk around the neighbourhood every day. It’s been nice to see the neighbours and chat at a distance. I never realized just how much I would miss people. I definitely notice that the wildlife in the area are more present as there are fewer humans out an about. I’ve actually been getting a little concerned that the very large racoon that has moved into my backyard may be plotting something.
Ok, let us know what music is filling the rooms, Lynne?
‘Servants of Love’ – Patty Griffin
I am such a huge fan of her work so it’s hard to pick one album. But I love the range of styles on this album. Plus I love sad songs and “You Never Asked Me”is just killer.
‘Written In Chalk’ – Buddy and Julie Miller
A radio DJ in The Netherlands gave me a pre-release copy of this album while I was on tour there for the first time back in 2009. There isn’t a bad song on it, and Julie Miller’s vocal on “Don’t Say Goodbye” brought me to tears the first time I heard it.
‘Car Wheels On A Gravel Road’ – Lucinda Williams
This album was a turning point for me when I first heard it. The idea that a female songwriter could be that raw and have that much swagger had a huge impact on my own songwriting so it’s a must-have for this Isolation Island we all find ourselves on.
‘Hell On’ – Neko Case
I’ve been a Neko Case fan for some time, and her originality is definitely something I like to reference as a creator to get me to colour outside the lines when it comes to ideas for songwriting. I love the production on this album and it’s fun to hear something new that I missed every time I listen to it.
‘You Want It Darker’ – Leonard Cohen
I love words. And he is a master poet. This album is beautifully dark.
‘Revival’ – Gillian Welch
This has to be one of my all time favourite albums and I think David Rawlings just might be one of my favourite guitar players. It’s remarkable to think this was her debut album.
‘The Tree Of Forgiveness’ – John Prine
So sad to lose such an iconic songwriter to this pandemic. It’s hard to pick just one album, but I’m going with his last one.
‘Still Live’ – Keith Jarrett
In my early days I listened to a lot of jazz. This album had a huge impact on how I hear melodies. As a songwriter I have a hard time not engaging with lyrics when I listen to music, so this is a nice break to be able to JUST enjoy the music.
‘Mule Variations’ – Tom Waits
Again tough to pick just one album. I love the contrast from ballad to swamp to spoken word. And sonically one-of-a-kind.
‘Over With You’ – Steve Forbert
I had the great fortune to be the support act for Steve’s 2012 UK album release tour. So I got to hear the songs from this album live every night with just Steve and his guitar. I never got tired of hearing him play, and this is still one of my all-time favourite album to this day.
‘Just Words’ is out now on Continental Record Services