Words to cherish and music that will grow on you, if you give it some time.
John Wort Hannam says of his new album; ““Long Haul is a reflection on my life up to this point, and for the first time I think that my songs perfectly encapsulate the truth of where I’m at as an artist and a person.” While the first two songs are musically rather ordinary Country/Americana songs, the words are where ‘Long Haul’ scores. The second song in ‘Hurry Up Kid’ will be relatable by any parents. Waiting on the new arrival is tempered by the fact that they grow up all too soon.
Things improve musically with ‘Wonderful Thing’ which will certainly be on the list when we do a top 10 of Lockdown songs. “I believe in the pedal steel. It pulls hard on the old heartstrings. It knows just how I feel. Ain’t life full of wonderful things”. The brief guitar solo from Steve Dawson is one of the highlights of the album. From here on the album picks up pace. ‘Beautiful Mess,’ a humorous duet Shaela Miller; “If I could find my hat I’d be outta here. That be that, I’d disappear Keep the Lou Reed record and the god-damn cat. Don’t be like that. If only I could find my hat”
Johnny Cash sounds like he was an influence on Hannam’s singing and he can carry a more serious song like ‘What I Know Now’ as well as the lighter lyrics. Best of those lighter songs is ‘Meat Draw’. More great slide guitar, and a loping country backbeat set up Fats Kaplin’s fiddle solo. The bluesy ‘Twilight Diner’ is another observational song, with a Ray Charles style electric piano. The album closes with three slower more contemplative songs. The pick of which is closer ‘Young at Heart’. As the album is dedicated to his late father, these words seem particularly poignant.
The first couple of plays of ‘Long Haul’ were not that rewarding. The first two songs being the weakest on the record doesn’t help there, but once you get familiar with the better songs, ‘Wonderful Things’, ‘Meat Draw’ and ‘What I Know’, especially the charms of Hannam’s music become apparent. While not the most complete album this year the best of it is worth a place on your Americana favourites playlist.
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