In recent years the life of a modern day touring singer-songwriter has received some hefty body blows, starting with the streaming of their recorded work and a much reduced income and then to Covid and the cancellation of all gigs resulting in no income at all. There is however, as things begin to get back to normal, one constant challenge that they share with their contemporaries and idols from yesteryear. The endless miles and hours on the road between gigs. Tonight sees the first visit from Hannah White and her band to the Town Hall, Kirton in Lindsey, Lincolnshire’s premier Americana venue, having travelled up from south London, a journey that took them over seven hours, the Friday before the half term break proving to be its usual nightmare drive. Fortunately, by showtime the trio of White on guitar and lead vocals, Keiron Marshall on electric guitar and backing vocals, and Holly Carter on pedal steel all appeared suitably refreshed and ready to treat the ever attentive audience to a performance primarily centred around material from White’s most recent release, ‘About Time’.
White kicked off proceedings with three songs from the new album including the opening track, ‘You Don’t Want Me Anymore’, and, ‘It Will Be Alright’, quickly setting the tone for the evening’s proceedings and highlighting a slight shift in musical direction from her previous album with the Nordic Connections. Whereas the material on that album emphasised White’s tremendous range both vocally and stylistically, the songs here demonstrate a greater focus, collectively knitted together to create a clearer identity and a much more personal statement. That said, midway through the first set White informs us that during lockdown she had also been working with the musicians from the Nordic Connections, with potentially an albums worth of material to come, and treated us to one of the tracks, ‘One Night Stand’, on which Marshall delivered some fine fretwork, surely whetting the appetite for more. As we progressed further into the set, White’s between song rapport became more relaxed as she opened up to some of the darker periods of her relatively young life which have become the source and inspiration for many of the new songs, such as the first single from the album, ‘Car Crash’, and, ‘Fourteen Years’, which closes the first half.
The second set continued in a similar vein with new songs to the fore, such as, ‘Daddy’s Gonna Make Me A Star’ and ‘The Good Stuff’ where Marshall once again demonstrated his dexterity with a stunning guitar solo. In recent years White has discovered and become enamoured with the music of the great Tim O’Brien, and thanks to some serious blagging, managed to both meet and eventually work with this bluegrass maestro who added his magic to two new White penned numbers that don’t appear on the album. Though not initially intended to be part of the set, White altered proceedings to treat us to one of those songs, ‘Down By The Station’, specifically requested by resident photographer Mark Dinnage, and which provided a perfect opportunity to turn the spotlight on Carter, whose pedal steel playing through out the set had added a wonderful mix of colour, and subtle phrasing. Before playing, ‘Broken Bird’, the second single from the album, White informed us how Ricky Ross, he of Deacon Blue fame, had played it on his radio show and was so impressed that he had booked her to support him on his up and coming tour. The song itself has a timeless classic country feel about it and therefore no surprise at Ross’s reaction.
The band returned to the stage to perform one encore, which was the second of the two songs recorded with Tim O’Brien, ‘Walk With Me’, before departing to rapturous applause from the thoroughly appreciative local contingent. One can only hope that their journey home proved to be a lot easier and shorter and that it won’t be too long before Brian Chudley can arrange for them to return to the Town Hall at Kirton in Lindsey.