SHAKEN: OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
On this record Ms Johnson delves deep into her influences of old country, the blues and honky tonk music. The choice of material is imperative to Hannah, who has spent a long time studying the vocal styles of country greats such as Faron Young, George Jones & Ray Price.
At a time when it is fashionably cool to be “americana” and dressing “vintage” is de rigueur, it is easy to feel tired of the cliches around the modern country scene. Much of the music coming out of Nashville today seems to be either watered down country pop, or stylistically affected Americana with chanted choruses and stomping bass drums.
However, there is also reaction against these extreme ends of the industry machine and artists like Hannah Johnson are approaching their music with a refreshing honesty and commitment to the core principles of ‘old’ country music, celebrating the heritage and history rather than diluting it. Undoubtedly spending so much time in Austin, Texas has influenced her immensely, as the music she is making falls much more under the bracket of what Dale Watson is doing with his “Ameripolitan” genre than the new country from Nashville. Hannah sings classic country songs about drinking and heart ache straight from a Honky Tonk, her sultry and smokey voice taking on the likes of Patsy Cline, Skeets McDonald and Willie Nelson. But what also cannot be ignored in her voice is the strong influence from the blues, as exemplified on her cover of an old Charlie Patton number and her powerful rendition of ‘Trouble In Mind’.
The stand out tracks however, are her own compositions, ‘Your Girlfriend Hates Me’ could perhaps be seen as a modern, less aggressive take on Loretta’s “fist city”, clearly placing relationships between women at the centre of her experience, and proving not always easy being the only girl in the band. ‘Morning Cocktail’ then takes her in a more soulful and reflective direction, lamenting a highly destructive lost love, the dangerous numbing qualities of alcohol, while demonstrating her vocal prowess. ‘Nowhere Train’ immediately hits an infectious country groove, delivering classic twangy telecaster and providing a strong catchy chorus as the album’s opener.
Ms Johnson’s fans include Imelda May, Robert Plant and Ronnie Wood, indeed Hannah and her band provided the entertainment for Ronnie’s recent 70th Birthday party. She is set to launch ‘Shaken’ at The Green Note, Camden on Saturday 8th July 2017 ahead of it’s official UK release on Monday 10th July 2017.
Hannah grew up in an incredibly musical home and was singing as soon as she could. But she began her artistic career working in theatre and television as a child, participating in an unabridged version of a midsummer night’s dream where she played Puck aged 11, working with the esteemed Philip Glass, being part of the central television actors workshop and acting in national children’s TV shows. She also initially studied the clarinet, but switched to guitar in her teens as it became apparent she couldn’t use the clarinet to back up her vocals – she did a mean ‘Stranger on the Shore’ though! After dabbling with the acting world for a number of years, Hannah settled on singing as her chosen medium, as she felt had grown ‘tired of being someone else on stage’ and she craved a more authentic way to express herself, and the genre of country music with its humility, simplicity and ability face emotionally complex topics, became her artistic home.
Hannah spent almost 15 years leading her family band The Toy Hearts (who currently on hiatus while the front women scratch their itches to release solo records), touring extensively in the UK, Europe and the USA. Hannah’s composition The Captain remains the biggest hit for her family band, as song that is a testament to both her song writing and her fierce independence – no body except Hannah is the captain of Hannah! She is an Alumni of the prestigious IBMA Leadership Bluegrass program, and has previously worked representing British bluegrass music in both America and Europe.