4. Darren Hanlon – I Will Love You At All
Flippin’ Yeah Industries
We weren’t together forever
But anyway what does that mean
One person’s lifetime, the history of mankind
Or the years since I turned seventeen?
– Scenes From A Separation
12 years into his career, Darren Hanlon still manages to pack more ideas and great lyrics into one song than most artists fill in a career. As a fan, there’s always a little worry the well will run dry. If anything, the fountain flows at full strength.
Hanlon seems to have been on tour for ten years, and that sadness of leaving and things ending has become an enduring theme in his work. And while singing about love, life and loss, he never loses sight of the details. He’s a master lyricist, on the level of Elvis Costello. Heck, he’s better.
He’s moving further and further from his early, Jonathan Richman-y joke songs into something more thoughtful. Scenes From A Separation, the best song on here, is a series of vignettes about a divorce and hints at Bob Dylan’s Tangled Up In Blue. It’s a rush of images, and a overall mood of resigned regret. Powerful, smart and lets not forget tuneful.
There’s a couple of very big songs on his album. House – the story of walking by place once shared with a lover – unfolds over about 100 verses. Folk Insomnia is shorer but it’s a million words a second – a lyrical hurricane of mad images.
Those show pieces aside, some of Hanlon’s sweetest songs are on here. Opening track Butterfly Bones and the first single All These Things should be busker classics.
Production wise, it sounds a bit like everything else he’s done. Very functional arrangements, recorded in a fine manner. With his pop smarts, I wonder what he would sound like if he went for the same sound as say, Bob Evans. It’s probably not in his vision, being the simple travelling balladeer that he is. Although this is his first album on big US indie Yep Roc, so maybe that will lead to other things.
If you’ve not heard Hanlon, this place is as good a place as any to start. It really is a tremendous album, full of the charm, with and heart that fill all his albums. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll marvel at his rhymes.
I thought this album would be my number 1 album this year. The only thing keeping it at four is that this album exceeded my expectations – the next 3 smashed them to bits.
Best songs: Scenes From A Separation, Butterfly Bones, House
Official site – Darren Hanlon
The clip for the one and only single thus far All These Things
But here’s a lovely version of Scenes From A Separation made by the fine folks at Shoot the Player