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REVIEW: Lynne Hanson at the Life of Riley Music Club

REVIEW: Lynne Hanson at the Life of Riley Music Club

Owen Peters

REVIEW: Lynne Hanson at the Life of Riley Music Club

It was advertised for weeks and weeks, Lynne Hanson at the Life of Riley Club Music in Marlow.

If you decided to watch other bands, fair enough. If you decided to stay in and watch some dancing and singing chananagings on TV, fair enough. But she’s gone. Moved on.

You missed one of the most accomplished country singers to hit these shores this year, and what a performance you missed.

Lynne Hanson, based in Ottawa, Ontario, is touring the UK promoting her new album “River of Sand” with a tag line of “porch music with a little red dirt”.

 Her stage entrance was...on crutches! She didn’t explain the leg injury but did explain she wouldn’t be moving around too much throughout the performance.

So one gal and her guitar, sitting down.

 She begins with “Whiskey and Tears” heartbreak of a relationship gone bad, finding solitude in drink and more drink. She soon tells us she was a drinker, a serious drinker. Having listened to the her first song, I’m in no doubt she’s “truthin’”.

 Her style is relaxed, confident, at ease with the music and herself .

By the middle of her second song “This too shall Pass” the audience are hooked.

She stresses with angst, “There are days when even God doesn’t want to know my name”. We are already rooting for this rodeo girl to come through.

Acoustics at the Life of Riley Club allow her throbbing guitar style and sultry lyrical voice to marry up like respectful  friends, bouncing and pinging around, finding a home in the ears of a transfixed audience.

Once again she is storytelling, explaining background to her songs.

“Colour my summers Blue”. Another drinking song. The beauty and skill of her guitar work set the scene for a gentle breeze drifting over a cool evening, sitting out on well worn porch. I can see one or two people in the audience swaying to this one. No surprise. 

"Gonna sit here drinkin' till I'm no longer missing, those echoes of you...". It’s personal, deeply personal, her songwriting is exemplary.

 I’m sure at this point if Lynne could stand she would be demanding the audience join her dancing in the aisles. We are into “Mary Mary” and the beat is more than than foot tapping, it raucous.

It’s a murder song, her mother is called Mary, irony, humour and we want to dance.

From dancing to tears. “That Old House” . It’s theme is brutal, cold but wonderfully composed. It explores the disintegration of a relationship like few songs I’ve heard before.

Imagine a couple, lovers in youth building a life together. The house, their house, they are leaving it behind, along with wedding rings, memories and future hopes. The parting is underway. “Fifteen years and all we got was old” she tells us. "And as I closed that big oak door and cried, I swear I heard that old house sigh."

With that line she breathes, hits a soft cord solo, so becoming the house, narrating the emotion of a broken relationship.

The pace of this song feels as if all the shouting, fights, accusations are over. Just an acceptance they are moving on, and leaving what was, their house, behind.

Tears will flow, believe me.

 “Good Intentions” is her sit down encore. It’s a driving, pulsating beat with clever conversational lyrics between a trucker who picked up the wrong hitch hiker, for the wrong reasons. Enjoy the song, but think twice before becoming a good samaritan of the road again!

The album has a structure of heartfelt lyrics, loss, depression, regret, remorse, whiskey as a friend. Counterbalanced with an intertwining mix of superb musicianship to upbeat foot tappers (other audiences will definitely be dancing). She was always in control, note perfect throughout., outstanding absolutely outstanding.

From hobbling on the stage to hobbling off, Lynne Hanson was a sheer joy.

 It’s four years since she released her last album.

For sure “River of Sand” was worth the wait. Pleasure to have seen this performance, sorry if you missed it.

If you come across a better performer or performance this year, don’t let me know. There won’t be one.

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