With faith-fuelled lyrics and a sound like a denser Taylor Swift, these strong tunes would feel at home with pop royalty.
Label: Resound Media
Time: 11 tracks / 41 Minutes
I confess that I was not expecting much from this disc, given Hanna’s early work, which always struck me as bland and forgettable. But by this album, she has matured tremendously and there is much to enjoy.
The biggest factor is probably recording in Nashville and working with other songwriters (except for one cover, the fine “It is Well,” which weaves the famous hymn into its fabric). Kyle Lee has mixed and produced the disc, as well as co-writing most of the songs.
His production has both made and risked the album. Virtually every track is bathed in layers of energetic synths and big drums, with the fills and backing often providing the hooks. The risk comes from maybe overdoing it and cutting down Hanna’s space to breathe. After a while there is a tendency for songs to sound similar, and you can imagine the hook from one song over the tune of another.
But the songs do stand up on their own merit – they have to, as she performs live with just her guitar, and her husband on drums, so any weaker songs would be exposed without the big production.
I particularly like some of her turns of phrase. On the great earworm “Perfectly,” describing faith, when things don’t go the way she expects, she sings,
“No need for me to second guess/ You’re not the God of second best / No plan B /
I don’t always know what you’re doing, but you’re doing it perfectly.”
The anthemic "Even Now” does a similar job, as does opener “Let You Lead,” where she descrbes following God as putting one hand on his shoulder.
“Embers” is a co-write with Kevin Max, who also shares vocals (in a far more restrained manner than we are used to). Hanna is very comfortable in such company, her own vocals being very strong, clear and expressive all the way through.
If you are after Taylor Swift sound styling wrapped around accessible-to-anybody faith-fuelled lyrics, then this disc is very much worth investigating. It has several memorable tracks that would hold their own with pop royalty.