by Jowan Mead
Following a series of intimate, melodic folk records, and recent experimentations with electronic and ambient music via an exclusive Bandcamp release, Hannah, the latest LP from Texas native, Hannah Read aka Lomelda, is a powerful menagerie of her differing outputs to date.
Hannah blends the reversed-tape experiments of Both Made and Sing for Stranger with the driving acoustic confessionals of Kisses and Big Shot, but the record’s most effective songs combine both these tendencies: Tommy Dread’s electronic drums underpass twanged guitar and luscious harmonies, and the album highlight Stranger Sat By Me’s juxtaposed warped vocals, undefinable rumbles and electric flute tones unconventionally marry with a piano ballad that’s barely a minute long.
Even outside of these more daring pieces, Read excels though; singles Hannah Sun and Wonder, flesh out her talent for pop hooks with huge indie-folk arrangements that compare favourably to peers such as Big Thief and (Sandy) Alex G. Compared to some of Thx’s pop conventionality though, the bared songwriting on Hannah takes on wilder shapes, and the songs fall closer to feeling like mantras at times – Wonder is the best example of this, with Read repeating, ‘When you got it, give it all you got, you said,’ as the instrumental swells to equally affirming heights.
Closeness and intimacy are main takeaways from Hannah’s 36 minutes too. Read’s voice is minimally – sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with the instrumentation in the mix, as her delivery ranges from conversational to soaring, and is impressive when self-accompanied in vocal harmony. This format works especially well for putting across feeling through Read’s esoteric musings on human connection. Hannah emotionally journeys from being ‘light like kisses’ to speechless – ‘shining sad in shadowing blue’ – by the record’s end, but most of all grapples with identity. Read leaves a question after her own name unanswered in Stranger Sat By Me, and only starts to respond in Hannah Happiest, while directly reassuring herself through a speechless moment in lounging Tom Waits-esque closer, Hannah Please.
If identity is in the self-actualisation ring with Read, she comes out on knockout-top: Hannah’s intelligent percussion and synthesiser arrangements elevate Read’s performance to a level that cuts a strong balance between all her past endeavours, and collectively makes a strong case for her as one of the most engaging musicians in the modern alt-folk scene.
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