Mostly alone on stage at the Lexington, London, Alabama girl Hannah Aldridge bares her soul in front of an enthusiastic crowd with just her acoustic guitar, with the occasional aid from a backing singer. This is a departure from her usual persona because her studio albums have her band backing her up – but at the Lexington, she’s out front on her own and baring her soul to a very receptive audience. Stripped of everything but her emotions, Hannah takes her audience on quite the roller coaster ride. If your thing is bright, cheery songs with uplifting lyrics, then look away now because you’ll find none here… Taylor Swift she ain’t. This is ‘Dark Americana.’
Hannah writes and sings songs with themes about dark thoughts of depression and hopelessness. Her songs, drawn from her albums Razor Wire and Goldrush, are her attempts at facing down the demons wrought from a life which, so far, has included substance abuse, a broken marriage plus growing up living in the Southern US bible belt. It’s fair to say she’s packed a lot of living into her 33 years on the planet!
‘Howlin’ Bones’ is an unsubtle message to an ex-lover singing, “when I shoot, I aim for blood” and she sings with gut-felt feeling. There’s real honesty and grit in her voice. ‘Lie Like You Love Me’ begins with her singing I miss you like morphine straight to my veins. On ‘Goldrush,’ she asks “is this living or is my life just a slow-motion suicide”? Only three songs in and she’s already pulled no punches with how she feels, and there’s more to come. ‘Black & White’ is dedicated to her son Jackson and her wish to go back to her life in black and white. On ‘Lace’ she declares “I like my whisky like I like my men, on the tip of my… tongue”.
‘Rails to Ride’ with backing from the delightfully named ‘Goat Roper Rodeo,’ is possibly the odd song out on the album as it’s pure country and not a downer. There’re many good songs on this album but a definite highlight for this reviewer is the emotionally charged ‘Parchman’ a song about a woman on death row in one of the USA’s more notorious prisons who’s killed her man, refuses to feel guilty about it, would do the same again and is now waiting on her turn to feel the needle burn. ‘Born to be Broken’ is about the crushing of the spirit singing “was it something I did to make God punish me”. On ‘Lonesome’ a song about her reflections on her parents’ divorce, she intones one thing you can count on, lonesome goes both ways. However, Hannah’s survived because she has a defiant nature which is evident in her songs, and this is the silver lining in her life which has kept her going.