HANNAH ALDRIDGE - GOLD RUSH
LCM ALBUM OF THE MONTH - JULY 2017
- Release Date: 16th June, 2017
- Genre: Americana, Country-Rock, Rock
- Location: Nashville, Tenenessee / Muscle Shoals, Alabama. USA
- Record Label: Rocksnob
- Tracks: 10
- Website: https://hannah-aldridge.com/
- Review By: Gary Smith
Gold Rush is Hannah Aldridge’s highly acclaimed second album, a follow up to her excellent 2014 debut 'Razor Wire'. While that album launched her career and sent her touring across the world, 'Gold Rush' shows a more mature, introspective and reflective side of Hannah, one with more life experience. It's a cathartic collection of music.
The honesty Hannah Aldridge conveys in each track is off-set by her defiant nature, which gives her music a hopeful outlook.
“I start writing with ‘this is how I’m feeling and I need to talk about it.’ Doing that helps me sort out my own thoughts on it. My music is an introspective look at the things that happened in my life. It’s me trying to sort through and put feelings into words,” she said.
Hannah Aldridge is the daughter of Muscle Shoals legend Walt Aldridge. An 'Alabama Music Hall of Famer', Walt Aldridge is a prolific and decorated songwriter of countless number one and top ten hits, recorded by the likes of Lou Reed, Reba McEntire, Travis Tritt, Earl Thomas Conley, Ricky Van Shelton, Ronnie Milsap and Conway Twitty.
Mixing her personal life and the sounds of her hometown, Hannah's new album also draws on influences from across the rock genre. Working with people with one foot in country music and one foot in rock, Hannah makes a fresh kind of Southern Rock styled by Southern Gothic storytelling. You can hear it in 'Gold Rush'’s ode to burning out or in the yearning of 'Burning Down Birmingham', and anthem-for-the-lonely 'No Heart Left Behind', a track that is full of wild riffs.
Recorded at Creative Workshop in Nashville, Hannah worked with Muscle Shoals writers such as Mark Naramore, Tosha Hill, Matt Johnson and Brad Crisler. She also worked with super musicians Andrew Combs, Ashley McBryde, Don Gallardo, Ryan Beaver, bassist Sean Savacool, drummer Garrett Dean and '400 Unit’s' Sadler Vaden on electric guitar and co-producer Jordan Dean behind the keyboard. Hannah plays Telecaster on the album. She teamed up with Jordan Dean and M. Allen Parker, who were instrumental in working on her new album and finally finishing by calling on her Dad, Walt Aldridge, to master the record.
Hannah looks back on her younger days and experiences of failed relationships, substance abuse and life in an unforgiving Bible Belt. They are veined with themes of self-destruction and emotional scars, but from which she emerges a survivor.
“It’s about being self-destructive,” Hannah said of her new album. “That is the underlying tone. The album goes back to when I was younger, and after touching on that, to now.
The album begins with the reflective and Southern Rock shaded 'Aftermath', which has echoes of Stevie Nicks. "I was born in a crossfire. I was born with my hands around my neck. I didn't come here to be fragile!". Next the smoky, bluesy and soulful 'Dark Hearted Woman'. You can imagine the steam rising from this one. An atmosphere which creates the feel of the sultry Deep South and a woman scorned. Full of feeling, passion and wonderful electric guitar solos. Imagine a rockier version of 'I Put A Spell On You' with added sizzle.
A stand out on the album is a tale of lost love and yearning, the rocky 'Burning Down Birmingham' With its almost gospel harmonies and slide guitar, it fuses Springsteen with a large dose of southern soul.“Four whiskeys into a pack of Lucky Strikes I take my heartache with a little bit of ice” building to the earworm chorus of “There’s an old flame burning down Birmingham tonight." Another of my favourite songs on the album is the wonderful written 'The The Irony Of Love'. It's delicate yet punchy, thoughtful and full of reflection and fantastic metaphors, but slightly infused with bitterness and regret. "The first things that we learn, are the last things we forget. An empty heart is really just filled up with regret. Walls that surround us we've built by own hands. Tear them down stones by stone, we build them, build them up again.
The very upbeat and anthemic 'Shouldn't Hurt So Bad' could quite easily be the new theme song to 'Friends', with it's rising and bright guitar chords, thundering drumbeats and rousing chorus. The first time I heard the lead track the uptempo 'No Heart Left Behind' it reminded me of a Sheryl Crow classic, full of distorted guitar licks & riffs and driven percussion. It is a real toe-tapper and has a retro 80's rock feel.
The slower soulful and reflective ballad 'Living On Lonely' features a fantastic soaring guitar solo and an honest reflection of Hannah's dark days of addiction with the line “Strung out again. Nothing to hold me but pain pills and backseat friends.....two lanes on a cocaine binge....no one to hold me.” Another rocky concessional in 'I Know Too Much' "I don’t need another reason to hate myself, I don’t need another bad tattoo.”
The six-minute slow waltzing and sultry Southern gothic themed classic 'Lace', with Sean Savacool’s bass providing the underpinning backbone. “I like my whisky how I like my men. Right on the tip of my tongue....I can be your favourite sin!. I've been a good girl....most of my life....but the Devil feels right”. Hannah vocals rising to full force as the songs builds to an exciting climax.
Interestingly the beautiful title track 'Gold Rush' closes out the album. Returning home for Christmas, Hannah contemplates the many dark ghosts of the past, stirring up deep painful memories. “We hold on to our heartache like a noose around our necks......All the years that seemed to disappear come back to claim their debt”, capture the self-destructive and desperate themes “I don’t know if this is living or slow motion suicide.”
Gold Rush is a highly crafted, beautiful written and arranged album. Hannah's vocals are stunning especially live. I think it's one of the best Americana albums of the year.