April 4, 2018
The Green Note, London
“I don’t think I’ve ever met someone so humble and lovely in all my life”
Even Ellisha Green was full of anticipation for Hanna Aldridge’s performance, but first she had her own set to deliver.
Fitting the Camden location, her vocals in the bluesy-jazz influenced song Mother Tell Me were reminiscent of early Amy Winehouse. She was quick to clarify “my mother is actually very supportive and she does love me!”
Elsewhere, she showed musical theatre influences with a particularly impressive held note. Her ability to switch tone and genres was equally impressive.
Like many first timers at The Green Note, Green was appreciative of the listening crowd, given that she’s more used performing to the “drunken, rowdy” variety.
Her easy-going style struck a chord in the room, promoting her Platforms EP with the thoroughly reasonable approach “I really hope you enjoy it but don’t worry about it if you don’t.”
“I sat down with the intention of writing a good demon possession song”
Well that’s not something you hear every day in the country scene! Aldridge clarified that people try to place her as exclusively a country artist because her father, Walt, is known as a Nashville songwriter. The reality is more nuanced, she explained: “I like country music, I respect country music, but I really like rock music.”
There were country influences in her work, most notably in Lie Like You Mean It, but most songs fell squarely within the ‘taste the dirt between your ears’ Americana with a healthy dose of Southern Gothic for good measure.
The diverse musical influences were understandable, having grown up in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. She waxed lyrical about its musical heritage, from Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger to Jason Isbell. She wasn’t rose-tinted about the state more generally: “99% of people in Alabama probably don’t know where the UK is” she admitted.
Between songs, Aldridge mused about how she likes to write songs for horror movies, that she’d like to be a vampire, and complimented a friend as a “phenomenal murder songwriter.” That explains how one of the highlights of the set was Dark Hearted Woman, then!
It’s important to note that the cultural and artistic choices weren’t novelty or flippant. She quipped that “Snapped is all about women who have killed their husbands, so naturally its my favourite [TV show].” Yet, the song that it inspired, Parchman, about a woman on Mississippi’s death row, was a seriously powerful interrogation of the consequences of domestic violence: “I might have killed that man, but I’m not guilty,” Aldridge sang.
As she acknowledged, “hell, I would kill someone who was beating me too,” and she explained how much the topic had struck a chord with women around the world living with the daily threat of violence.
No matter the topic, Aldridge’s songs and stories walked the line between engaging and brutally honest. She took took requests, recognising that her obvious talent and back catalogue had drawn people to this intimate room for far and wide, yet she was pensive and confessional with it: “I do have to give up a lot to do this job…I don’t know if I have any more miles in me.” As well as the obvious stresses and strains of a largely itinerant life, there was the impact on daily rhythms: “every night is a Saturday night for me, it makes for a horrible morning.”
The crowd was clearly appreciative that Aldridge was prepared to make sacrifices to share her art with them. In fact, the room was so packed with fans that not everyone could get in. The support artist, Ellisha Green, peeked through the curtain to join the experience.
Aldridge’s vocals were beautiful, the lyrics introspective, and the way she harnessed silence as an instrument in a pin-drop quiet room was masterful.
Recognising the good thing they had, the folks at The Green Note are hosting Aldridge again for a one-off Grand Ole Opry style show at their sister venue, The Lexington, on July 23. UK Americana favourites Danni Nicholls, The Goat Roper Rodeo band, The Black Feathers and Robbie Cavanagh are all involved too. See greennote.co.uk/production/hannah-aldridge/ for details and tickets.
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