Describing Hannah Fair’s music as “country” is not a perfect description. She’s more or less a female acoustic singer songwriter. Her influences are clearly based in country, blues, rock, and even at times jazz. Some of her toe tappers could get a honky-tonk swinging. Some of her softer stuff could make a grown man cry. The versatility of this emerging artist put her right in the center of our radar. I’m excited to feature her latest album Open Road here today.
The opening “E Minor Blues” get us going right from the beginning. It’s a good blues based song gets us moving. The title track “Open Road” follows classic blues chord progression, but throws in a banjo to give it a nice full sound. “He said sure honey, this one’s on me…” It’s a song about life on the road with all of the western travel detail you want. “The open road has been so good to me… but I wish my baby would only see that we were meant to be.” Seriously this song could have been written 50 years ago and none of us would be the wiser. That’s a good thing ’round these parts.
“1955” presents a narrative of love. “We live this life in black and white,” which seems to be reflecting on an old fashioned romance. “We are youth in the flesh…” This song has elements of several genres but feels most like a folk song. It would be a little better in a stripped down version (i.e. just Hannah and her guitar). The full band is a little too much. The song, as a celebration of young love, is quite sweet.
“Home” sounds like the kind of song that should be titled “Open Road.” It has a driving beat that makes the listener want to crank it in the car. It’s about a lover ruining the concept of “home” for her. It reminds me of an early Don Henley song. “I can never go home because you’ve ruined my home… why’d you do me like that?” It’s angsty. It’s bluesy. It’s complicated. It’s real.
Hannah’s song “Undone” has an old fashioned country music sound. In fact it might be the best song on the album because it encapsulates her sound so well. The songwriting is very obviously influenced by some of the great country musicians, even with the railroad strum pattern that pushes the tune along. “She’s coming undone…” is an anthem of a lovelorn woman. Hannah’s vocal harmonies (with herself? Most likely) are well placed. The whole album could have more of that.
“Hell Tonight” begins with a mix of guitar and banjo that makes for an intriguing country sound. When the steel guitar joins about 20 seconds in, it becomes 100% country. Hannah makes a few minor chord turns that remind me of, again, classic country music. “For I am yours…” the key lyric in the song illustrates that feeling of having a fight with a lover, then trying to figure out how to make up. This is classic country living on. That’s high praise, really.
The beginning of “Poor June” is fantastic. This song shows another side of Hannah Fair that I wish we heard more of throughout the album. It highlights her pure sound and fantastic voice. The vocal harmonies for the refrain “poor June” really makes the song. The bridge about her dress and emotional state are so clear, so descriptive, and frankly perfect. It’s one of the best songs on the album in terms of construction and execution.
At the beginning of this review I mentioned “toe tappers” and Fair’s “Do-Si-Do” is absolutely that kind of song. “And when you hold me I will forget… about all those stupid crazy things we said we never meant… And when you kiss me I will forgive… fallin’ ‘nto love again.” This is country music. All it’s missing is the beer and the “swing your partner” lyric. Oh wait… that’s what “do-si-do” means. Her lyric about “spinning into another world” is great. This is pop radio good. Yee haw.
The blues guitar on “Fate” makes it one of the best songs on the album. It’s a song about intoxicating love. It’s a tried and true blues song. It’s ultimately about a relationship that didn’t work out. “What would it be to be right in your heart? I’ll never know.” Wow. Such sad words have never been sung so sweetly. It’s a really, really good song.
Although this song isn’t on the album, this version of “Lonesome for You” is worth the post. Enjoy!
It’s obvious that Hannah Fair is a talented young lady. Her career has a ton of potential. What makes her work unique is that she clearly has a variety of influences. At this point, her songs are archetypes of the various genres. It will be interesting to hear her evolve her own sound. For what it’s worth, fans of classic country and blues really should support this music. Check her out on ReverbNation and leave her happy thoughts.