Though only 16, Hannah Gill has a very mature voice that oscillates between the willowy sensitive and the highly convicted. Her debut, though, is attributable to Brad Hammonds, a CandyRat label level guitarist with a highly refreshing way in his compositions (the guy's instrumentals, found outside this disc, sometimes remind me of the old proggie Paul Brett, then of Takoma's Toulous Engelhardt, then of…). He caught hold of that voice and would not let go, insisting Hannah was ready for a good deal more than the high school musicals she'd so far appeared in. He wanted more demos and he wanted them now! They were made, he listened back, and immediately signed Gill to his label (Greene Street Music).
The accompaniment is fairly spare but well rendered: contrabass, bowed and straight; trumpet; piano; etc., as well as Hammonds' guitar work…not the spectacular fretsmanship he's famed for but straightforward chords, colorations. I was reminded of Talk Talk's later more artful environments once or twice, and four of the six songs are written by the guy, but what struck Hammonds as the recording progressed was that Gill handled his work even beyond what he'd hoped to hear. There's a lot of expressiveness in her high often quavery vocals, an emotional level that needs no histrionics, no excesses, is satisfied to roll out the melodiously mournful story as a back alley nightclub's laconic magic descends, jazz meeting folk.
My favorite cut is the closer, Distance, a meeting of Toni Childs' mellower side mixed with a bit of Mary Fahl, Marianne Faithfull's early days in the background atop a Talk Talk / 4AD ambience. Somber and gauzy like the lion's share of the disc, it sits in sad-eyed redolence, an autumnal October Project fog tumbling in, but with delicacy rather than that now-vanished band's magnificent grandiloquence, a letter penned to a lover rather than a paean to love and separation itself. If Hannah Gill was issued as an EP to test the waters, I'd say the crossing is now safe to venture.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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