Like a good football manager, Hannah White was able to cope with reshuffling the squad of her All Star Band for an away tie in Leicestershire. With her 2 Norwegians away on International Duty and unavailable for selection and additional guitarist from last week Matt Owens also unable to be picked,, - it was time to recall Michelle Stodart, long term squad member and producer of her new upcoming record back to the first team on bass. The line up may have changed but the quality of the output remained satisfyingly high, more than justifying our selection as being one to watch at The Long Road.
For some acts, seeing them in quick succession can sometimes be to their detriment, with their act not really standing close scrutiny again quite so quickly - with Hannah White's All Star Band it is the complete opposite - You start to see little details that you may have missed first time round. Unaccustomed to starting quite so early, this would be a rejigged set from last weeks at "Folk In The Park" and would see Hannah ease her way into proceedings with the most delicate "Broken Bird". This was a wonderful way to start, from the gentle percussion to the Holly Carter's hypnotic pedal steel that made its presence felt throughout and the backing vocals from Michelle and Keiron all adding to the overall mix.. The country ballad "Fire To Your Flame" with some great atmospheric guitar work from Keiron throughout, would see Hannah's vocal gradually warming up and becoming louder as the song progressed. Another star on this track was the inventive percussion work of Emma Holbrook who would impress all show.
It was time to dip into the new album and well and truly up the pace with "The Aftershow", Michelle literally bouncing up and down as she played her bass on this most rip roaring rocker of a Country tune. With Hannah rattling out the lyrics at pace during the verses it all led to a rocking powerhouse chorus. Emma whose percussion had been so delicate during the previous song, now transformed into a blur of activity. On completion Hannah felt able to announce "Long Road - We are awake!". Another tease from the new album came with "One Night Stand" which would start with Hannah singing the verses as almost a smouldering whisper before upping the volume for each chorus which would also see the band raise the intensity - no matter where you looked, each member of the band seemed to be playing a key part in making the overall sound work - yet each was unfussy in their playing not looking to steal the show - it was a true ensemble piece. As it was a Sunday - "Walk Beside Me" provided a suitable choice for the day, with hints of gospel and folk shining through in the group harmonies.
Once again Hannah chose to introduce "Car Crash" as a moment where she would go "not really festivally!". It is indeed unlike anything else that we would hear all weekend, achingly heartbreaking and vividly real, rarely does an artist lay themselves this open. This song is not only a tour de force for Hannah but also for the band who play an integral role in the overall success. The percussion of the intro sets the tone, along with the almost muted electric guitar, Hannah's acoustic guitar is most prominent at this stage - as she unleashes the attention grabbing first line
"They want to take my baby - they want to take my child" if you were not invested before you were now!
The chorus when it comes each time will see a dramatic rise in volume, Holly on pedal steel will seemingly contort her left foot into an almost ballet like position on the pedal of her instrument to extract every last decibel of sound. Keiron will gently pick his guitar lines while Emma will drive things from the rear of the stage.
The final chorus starts as just Hannah and her guitar before the band come in to build a most fitting climax - for the second week running this one song will receive more applause than any other song we witnessed being played across the whole weekend - it was a true appreciation of just how much had been put into that single performance,
The next 2 songs both from the upcoming album would lighten the mood and show Hannah's ear for a great pop tune, "Right On Time" evokes a definite Sixties vibe with a chorus that has the most soulful of grooves and with Michelle encouraging some clapping from the crowd, it soon turned into a party number. The closing number "Chains Of Ours" at one point sees Hannah effect a Chuck Berry style duck walk to the microphone with her guitar - it is just one of many things going on in this quite wondrous tune that never seems to go on quite long enough. The faces of the band exude their sheer joy in what they are playing and #TEAMw21 never tire of hearing it. With Keiron providing a scorching guitar solo this was a fantastic way to close out a most compelling set.
Hannah White will be touring with Paul Carrack throughout September & October.
Chains Of Ours is available now
The new album "Sweet Revolution" will be available Nov 3rd
There is an album launch in London at Bush Hall on the same night - https://dice.fm/event/nd2l5-hannah-white-sweet-revolution-album-launch-3rd-nov-bush-hall-london-tickets?lng=en