Hannah Aldridge is a free spirit, if not a dangerous one. Exhibiting the dark poetic underbelly of someone twice her age, this 26 year-old, Nashville-based singersongwriter grew up in the shadow of her Muscle Shoals-famed pappy, Walt Aldridge (hit-maker, engineer, recordproducer).
Following up 2011’s WANDERER EP, she’s bitten into the essence of what she does best, backed by a powerful band with the muscle to unleash a singer with something different to say. But it’s the way she says it that makes its mark. Wasting no time, You Ain’t Worth The Fight kicks off the album with attitude, distinguished by sinewy slide guitar, crisp drums and rich swirls of B3 as Aldridge rears her head and spits out disdain for an ex-lover like a wounded viper. She continues with Old Ghost – a sturdy, upbeat original that sets an eerie backdrop of mystery across a country backbeat and solid, all-band workout with legs of its own. A slow, swampy Strand of Pearls combines multiple time changes, the use of a bowed saw and cutting lead guitar to create a country-edged tune Vincent Price could be proud of. Yet, it’s the title track that takes no prisoners – also reprised in an acoustic format with a charm of its own.
Razor Wire reveals a softer, more tender Aldridge as Andrew Higley’s piano, Andrew Sovine’s acoustic guitar and Dylan LeBlanc’s background vocals spawn a love song baring sharp teeth. While the piano-based Parchman momentarily recalls Amoreena, Sovine’s searing guitar solo keeps things from becoming overly melodramatic. Aldridge’s bad girl persona explodes all over Howlin’ Bones as her band crests the wave before her – a key album highlight. The rocking Try (from former Drive-By Trucker, Jason Isbell) amps up the guitar and drums – an environment she appears to shine in, feeding energy from Sadler Vaden’s searing lead guitar and Derry DeBorja’s rich bed of B3.
Yet it’s when things get toned down a notch – as in her own Black and White, inspired by her young son, where Aldridge sizzles. This sturdy, autobiographical original comes with her most powerful vocal – it’s her Wild Horses and, cementing it together with her band, they lift it well off the page. Likewise, the steamy, sexual Lie Like You Love Me bristles with country badness and an aura of addiction. The light, solo acoustic guitar touch of Lonesome reads like a post-sex cigarette – a genuinely ‘pretty’ ballad that makes the most of Aldridge’s gentler side. With as many good ideas as she’s had looks, Aldridge proves a force to be reckoned with – as a songwriter and as a singer – on this bulletproof debut. Drawing from a rich gene pool, which will carry her over the long haul, Aldridge’s only next move is up.
* Published in the July/August 2014 Edition of Maverick Magazine