Hannah in the Wars – Only Wanna Be

Picture 28_RingMaster Review

Earlier this year Hannah in the Wars awoke acclaiming appetites with a self-titled debut album and now back up that wave of attention with new single Only Wanna Be. Taken from a collection of songs described as having “beautifully written melodies and emotionally engaging narratives, taking inspiration from life’s trials and triumphs and perfectly showcasing Curwood’s distinctive and powerful vocals”, the new two track release is a full engagement for ears and emotions easily backing up those words.

Picture 27_RingMaster Review     Hannah in the Wars is the creation of Hannah Curwood, a singer songwriter hailing from Central Otago in New Zealand; an area stark and remote but obviously sparking a creative prowess in the now London based Curwood. The project and album emerged from the result of Curwood working alongside Roger O’Donnell of The Cure, and the subsequent enlisting a handpicked group of talented musicians made up of Eloise Healy, Claire Wackrow, Rosemary Toll, Lachlan Radford, and Fiona McMartin. The two tracks making up the new single were written in the wake of a broken relationship and Curwood’s move half way across the globe. They are songs with an emotive intimacy and inventive tension which further enlivens their rich persuasion on the imagination.

Only Wanna Be opens on a melancholic caress of keys quickly hugging the just as emotive tones of Curwood. Instantly there is drama to the song, not an imposing tempting but one gently coaxing thoughts into the heart of song and writer. Vibrant percussion adds a slightly livelier underbelly to the song and in turn seems to inspire a bolder melodic adventure throughout without unbalancing or diluting the sombre yet sublimely elegant texture of the song. Continuing to enthral as new elements like a soulful mandolin and floating vocal harmonies embrace the senses, it is a mesmeric encounter leaving warmth, even if bred from sadness, inside.

Accompanying the song is Sweet Release, the B-side also from the debut full-length. Gloriously compelling dark strings open up the song with just as emotively shaped keys soon aligning themselves to their potent narrative. Things simmer down a touch as vocals and melodies slip in with their charming colour, the song then proceeding to entangle all aspects in a deceptively infectious and inventive tapestry. It is a bewitching mix that only gets stronger and bolder with every passing minute and each individual listen.

As enjoyable as Only Wanna Be is, Sweet Release steals the show and alone makes the strongest reason to check out the band’s album for newcomers. Really this single is a double A-sided encounter such the quality of both tracks and the assumed matching attention each will garner once its release. The songs might have been bred in heartbreak but they leave a rosy glow in the same place within the listener.

Only Wanna Be is available from September 14th via 99X/10 Records.

Pete RingMaster 14/09/2015

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Lettie: Good Fortune, Bad Weather

Lettie might predominantly be tagged as electro pop but as her new album proves there is so much more depth and diversity to her sound and creativity. The UK artist is an imaginative and instinctive songwriter who weaves sounds and emotions with mesmeric and irresistible flourishes and skill. Unpredictable, insistently contagious, and persistently the cause of pure pleasure tingles within the senses, the new release Good Fortune, Bad Weather is a masterful and delightful feast for the heart.

To simplify a back story for an artist who has as many tales and sure to be inspiring moments to her life and career as the album, Lettie is a Suffolk girl who for the past decade has played in various bands and recorded solo material with Anthony Phillips (ex- Genesis) for Universal Publishing. It was in 2006 though that she met composer/producer David Baron and together it led to the recording of two albums in America. Things suddenly started to happen from this point with both Age Of Solo and Everyman without any real promotion gaining strong attention and acclaim. These led to a session for the BBC, special guest appearances on the tour of ex- Bauhaus frontman Pete Murphy in 2009 and also the following year, as well as guest slots with Chris Difford (Squeeze) and Roger O’Donnell (The Cure).

Personal tragedies surrounded the release of the albums for both Lettie and Baron and she returned to the UK, where she worked with a writer and producer in Oxford on her third album Other Days which never saw a completion as problems continually stood in its progress. A call from Baron led her back to America to work on a new, an invitation that has benefitted everyone given the wonderful result that has emerged in Good Fortune, Bad Weather.

From the moment opening song Swirl wraps around the ear there is a sense that something unique and special is on the horizon and the track takes no time to insist that feeling will be realised. From the brooding dark synth start with her sparking vocals on top, one is immediately drawn to an eager attention. A line mentions ‘the puppet master’ in an open swipe at a certain TV personality, television producer, entrepreneur etc, yeah him, but that term easily represents the skill with which Lettie caresses and weaves her sounds and ideas. Only difference is there is no self serving intent or dark lining to her creativity. Funny thing is if she was in front of the man you know he would not recognise the talent and pure artistry on offer.

Lucky steps up next with a beckoning graceful stomp across the ear, piano and guitar as melodically captivating as her stunning vocals. Nothing is forced, the song an organic summer upon the ear and thoughts that warms as it pleases.

The sensational Bitter actually puts what came before in the shade somewhat, great songs they are this track is simply delicious, a perfect slice of inventive, thoughtful and passionate. As with the album nothing is predictable or assumed, each note , harmony, and spiral of melody an inspiring and heart igniting joy. With a simple pulse but deep atmosphere the track explodes upon the senses like the brightest sun.

The addictive and pulsating electro Never Want To Be Alone sparkles in sound and lyrical poetry but has to make way for another of the strongest highlights on the album in the shape of 80’s electro pop flavoured Sanctuary. It brings the warm harmonies of Bat For Lashes alongside the hypnotic melodies of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark though at times it could be Thomas Dolby and Shakespeares Sister partying with Propaganda. Yes it is that mesmeric and irresistible.

There is no weakness on the album, only varying heights for the continuous peaks of wonder. The sensational Digital with its Thompson Twins spice and sneaky Jona Lewie lurking melody both radiating nothing but pleasure, and the indie jewel that is Pandora with its jangly guitar and sultry flow, further incite a stronger an accumulating affection for Good Fortune, Bad Weather with ease. They also show the eclectic nature of the album, each song distinctly varied to each other and irrepressibly enthused with multiple flavours as the folk hearted Mister Lighter, the reggae pulsed title track, and Gwen Stefani pop of Aluminium Man show impressively.

Every song on the album deserves a mention but that is for you to discover as Lettie pleasures your very soul, though we have to mention Crash And Burn, another major highlight which lights up skies with shooting aural flashes and siren borne melodies. This is admittedly our first introduction to Lettie but it will not be the last, we want much more of this sensational stuff.


Ringmaster 15/05/2012

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