A Countdown To "Razor Wire"
In just ten days Hannah Aldridge's debut record, "Razor Wire" will be released. After getting a chance to listen to and digest the album, we here at The Music Room feel that it is simply too good to just write a normal review of. Since each song is wonderful in it's own way, we are going to feature a song a day leading up to the May 13, 2014 release date. If at any point in the next ten days you come to the realization that you have to have this record (and you do) you can order your copy here. It will also be available on iTunes on May 13th for digital download.
1. "You Ain't Worth the Fight" - We all probably know at least one couple that do nothing but fight. It never fails, every single time you see them, they are going at it about something. In this upbeat opener of "Razor Wire," Hannah Aldridge makes it clear that she is not willing to be involved in relationship drama like that. In what can basically be described as the ultimate kiss-off song, Aldridge tells the unfortunate guy that her time is too valuable and that she is out of here. Not only does this song send a strong message, it also showcases Aldridge's abilities as a song writer. There are several times throughout the song where Hannah uses her words to create strong metaphors to make her point. Her songwriting can only be described as sophisticated and powerful. The good news is, we're just getting started!
2. "Old Ghost" - There is undeniably something special about the music that comes out of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Some even attribute the sound to something spiritual that rises out of the Alabama river mud. If that theory is true, then "Old Ghost" must be covered in that mud. The track opens with a cool guitar line from Andrew Sovine that leads right into a soulful vocal delivery from Aldridge. While the sound of the song is something supernatural in itself, the subject matter is not so hard to believe. Hannah tells me that she wrote "Old Ghost" about a guy that she dated briefly that could not get over his ex, so she wrote the song for him. What a nice way for him to recall his emotional screw up. Aside from another brilliant performance from Hannah, this song is the perfect opportunity to mention that the musicianship on the entire record is top notch. There are numerous contributors on the record, but the core group is Sovine on guitars, Brad Pemberton on drums and percussion, Andrew Higley on keys, and Lane Baker on bass. I believe that the playing on this record would make "The Swampers" proud!
3. "Strand of Pearls" - The third cut from “Razor Wire” is “Strand of Pearls.” The song opens with an ominous guitar riff and an invitation for a walk down to the bank of Cypress Creek. While a man and a woman make the journey to that creek bed together, only the man returns from the veil of fog. Aldridge explains that she originally intended for it to be a love song and it morphed into a love song with a murder ending by the time she got to the third verse. “That was my one attempt at a love song for the record. I guess love songs aren’t my strong suit.”
“Pearls” is the perfect example of Hannah Aldridge’s skill as a story teller. Through the mixture of lyrics that tell just enough, a vocal delivery that brings believability to the story and a musical arrangement that creates the perfect mood for the scene, Aldridge tells a tale that will pull the listener right into the story. By this third track, the listener should be able to tell that there is much more to Hannah Aldridge than just being a singer/songwriter. Her attention to the details and the subtleties of her arrangements make her stand out from the pack. Case in point is the saw solo in this song. It sounds crazy, but when you here it, it just works. Hannah describes her sound as Dark Americana and after you listen to “Stand of Pearls” you will know what she means.
4. "Razor Wire" - As good as the first three songs of the record are, the title track, “Razor Wire,” is a launching pad for where the rest of the record goes from here. As a writer, I have a huge responsibility to find the right words to do the music justice. I am almost tempted to stop right here because the upcoming material is just so powerful, I don’t know how my words can even come close to doing it justice. However, I will carry on with the disclaimer that my words will just offer a small insight into this music. You truly need to experience it for yourself to fully understand and appreciate it. This music is meant to be felt, and not just heard.
Tom Waits once said, “I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.” I believe that Mr. Waits would be a huge fan of the song “Razor Wire.” The track opens with a single acoustic guitar and a vulnerable vocal from Hannah. “Twenty-Five years of hard earned mistakes, look well-rehearsed from the stands. I sit outside of that pawnshop crying, holding that ring in my hand.” It is a song about a relationship that has run its course and someone finding herself on her own for the first time in many years. It is a song about hurt, loneliness and regret all wrapped up in a beautiful 4 minutes and 56 seconds. And while the world of music is full of songs about love lost, not many generate the raw emotion like this one does. It is amazing to think that Aldridge has only been writing songs for about five years. Her ability to find the perfect combination of words to convey real feelings can only be described as a gift. While my words may fully fail to explain this, I will allow Hannah’s words to speak for themselves. “Oh, I miss you tonight. I’m so lonesome I feel like I’m dying. Cause love comes in like a thief in the night and leaves you with razor wire…oh I’m hanging by razor wire.”
"Razor Wire" was written in the middle of the night after I went and pawned my wedding ring. It was the song that kind of made all of the thoughts in my mind regarding my divorce come together into something that made sense to me.