Posts Tagged ‘Hannah’s Yard’

In the weeks and months ahead, Diane and I will be sorting through the ephemera of our lives as we prepare to move south. It’s a daunting task, as we’ll essentially be deciding what to keep, what to donate, what to sell, and what to trash. The decisions will be tough: What of the high-school report I authored on Lewis Carroll? (For the record, I got a B+.) What of the middle-school essay that recounted my life up until that point? (An A.) Or the box filled with handouts and notes from various college classes? The boxed-up books in the attic? The old magazines that clutter the den? Our DVDs? CDs? LPs? And what of the many framed and unframed posters and prints currently collecting dust?

Some of those questions are easier to answer than others, of course. And while we’ll keep much, we’ll part with much, too. The thing about growing older is this: You realize your life’s treasures aren’t the things you collect, but the people you hold in your heart.

And, with that, here’s today’s Top 5: New Releases, Vol. XXXIII 1/3

1) Harriet – “You Get What You Give.” The dulcet tones of Harriet are utterly addictive, and this infectious shot of upbeat philosophizing – a cover of the New Radicals’ modern-rock smash from 1998 – is, too. It’s one of four tracks from her new EP, The Universal Sessions, which she recorded for BBC Radio 2’s “Alan & Mel’s Summer Escape.”

2) Jane Willow – “Onward Still.” Speaking of philosophizing… I cannot get enough of this song from the Dutch-Irish singer-songwriter. The martial drums, strummed guitars and Jane’s warm vocals, and her lyrical insights, are balm for the soul. The future is in front of us, all, and what becomes of us is up to us.  

3) Hanora George – “The Fallen.” I discovered Hanora, who’s based out of Cork, thanks to Karrie, who shared an interview with the singer on her Facebook page. Wow. What’s amazing is this: Hanora didn’t begin her musical journey until her college years. 

Here’s the interview in question:

4) Stone Foundation – “Next Time Around.” The Midlands-based band’s latest release, Everybody, Anyone, is an addictive set of R&B-infused rock, echoing the likes of War and Traffic, among others.  

5) Hannah’s Yard – “Feels Like Home.” The Buckinghamshire collective covers this classic Randy Newman song on their current release, the four-song Reflections EP. It’s a stirring rendition.

There’s no denying it: I’ve been in a Shelby Lynne frame of mind for the past few weeks. How could I not? But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been time for new music…

One of my favorite young acts, Hannah’s Yard, released a delightful four-song EP this weekend. Titled Revelations, it features renditions of the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” Jack Johnson’s “Better Together” and Randy Newman’s “Feels Like Home,” as well as their own “Never Gonna Say I’m Sorry” (from their 2017 Beginnings album). “Blackbird” is beautiful.


Hannah’s Yard hails from Olney, Buckinghamshire, the small British town that gave birth to “Amazing Grace.” About two hours south, in Surrey, lies Paul Weller’s Black Barn Studio, where the R&B/soul-infused Stone Foundation and assorted friends, including Weller and his former Style Council mates Mick Talbot and Steve White, recorded their forthcoming Everybody, Anyone album. The latest teaser track is “Carry the News”…

The singer-songwriter Amanda Shires released her self-made video for “Parking Lot Pirouette,” from her forthcoming album To the Sunset, last week. It features Shires on vocals and violin, husband Jason Isbell on acoustic and electric guitar, Dave Cobb on bass, Peter Levin on Wurlitzer and synthesizer, and Jerry Pentecost on drums.

Karrie O’Sullivan – “I Love You the Most.” Here’s another tantalizing track from the Irish singer-songwriter. It was released back in May, and I’ve enjoyed it since – but I was unaware that there was a video for it until just now. Like last summer’s single, “I Don’t Here You,” it’s quite addictive…

And because I am in a Shelby frame of mind…  here’s “Off My Mind,” one of the songs from her movie Here I Am. It was released back in April…and was a song we’d hoped to hear her perform in Ardmore.

Finally, one bonus… Shelby again, this time from just last night in Knoxville, Tenn., where she performed an a cappella version of Dusty’s “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”… “hypnotic” doesn’t begin to describe it.

The lazy, hazy days of summer are upon us, and while my intent today was to delve deep into the Natalie Merchant Collection – well, I’m feeling lazy and, thanks to the Delaware Valley’s patented humidity, my thought process is as hazy as the sky looks from my window. Even with the a.c. running, the thick air has seeped into my skull and clouded the synapses, making analysis more of a chore than it should be.

So, instead, I’m tripping into the past with new songs that sound like they could’ve been released in the late 1960s in preparation for another sojourn into the sunny sounds of the Summer of Love, which I plan to post on July 4th (if not sooner).

1) Lucy Rose – “No Good at All.” I suppose I should have heard of Lucy Rose before March of this year, given that she’s been turning ears since 2012. But it wasn’t until she released “Floral Dresses,” which features backing vocals by the Staves, that she appeared on my radar. This, the second single from her forthcoming Something’s Changing album, possesses a wondrous retro vibe.

2) Lia Pamina – “Sycamore Tree.” Elefant Records is one of my favorite labels – just about everything it releases sounds like a lost treasure from yesteryear. This sweet song was written and produced by Joe Moore (the Yearning).

3) The Primitives – “I’ll Trust the Wind.” The Coventry-based indie-pop band, another Elefant Records act, is probably best known for their 1988 hit “Crash.”

4) Sundowners – “Ritual.” I don’t know much about this Liverpool-based group beyond the inclusion of this track on Mojo’s June Children of Pepper CD compilation. I like them.

5) Hannah’s Yard – “Better Together.” Hannah & Co. cover the Jack Johnson song from the singer-songwriter’s 2005 In Between Dreams album. I’m cheating a bit by including it, I know, as  it’s not exactly retro – but Hannah’s voice is timeless.

And one bonus:

6) The Parcels – “Overnight.” They’re an Aussie band that’s now located in Berlin, and they blend ‘70s-era disco and pop. This song conjures Blondie and Chic.

The musical collective known as Hannah’s Yard is releasing its debut album, Beginnings, on Friday, May 12th. They’ve released a handful of singles over the past year and a half, with each of the songs conjuring their influences while moving beyond them. Norah Jones and Melody Gardot are evident, as are traces of Fairground Attraction. Jazz, pop, country, folk and R&B mix effortlessly into a delicious sonic stew that’s spiced by singer Hannah Layton Turner’s soulful vocals; it’s the kind of music one will play, to borrow a lyric from Denny Laine, “again and again and again.”

I featured “Close Enough” in a Top 5 last weekend (and again, down below). Here are two more of their singles, “Why Would I Know?” and “I Want You.” (All are also on Beginnings.)

And here’s their stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace,” which was born in their picturesque hometown of Olney, Buckinghamshire.

I asked Hannah if she’d answer a few questions via email and, to my delight, she said yes. In addition to filling me in on her background and influences, she introduced me to a new act that I’ll feature in coming weeks – the British country-pop duo Ward Thomas. (I’ve ever-so-slightly edited her replies, removing some…but not all…ellipses.)

Why the name Hannah’s Yard?

The name comes from where our studio is – it’s in a little place called “The Yard”…and my name is Hannah! Hannah’s Yard is a musical collective consisting of myself (vocals), Barnaby Pinny and James Reader (songwriter/producers), and a great collection of UK-based renowned musicians. Everyone brings their expertise!

Who are your influences?

Ever since I was a little girl, I would listen to Eva Cassidy. My Mum had her beautiful album Songbird playing on repeat in her car; before long I knew all the words! I still love her style of singing, the music she sung and the emotion she was able to deliver through her voice. Norah Jones is another artist who I enjoy listening to (in fact, we’re often referred to as “Norah Jones Meets Fairground Attraction”) due to her effortless vocals and soft, smooth voice.

What was the first album (CD, vinyl, download) you bought?

Don’t take this the wrong way, but Now 48 (2001) was the first album I owned (I was only 5!). Whilst my mini-friends were singing along to Steps and S Club 7, I had found a lonely track by Eva Cassidy and would play it on repeat – her amazing version of “Over the Rainbow.”

What was the last album you bought?

I usually just download single songs (sorry!), but the last whole album I downloaded was Ward Thomas’ new release Cartwheels; I’ve really enjoyed it and “Material.” is my favourite track! I like how their music is more on the pop side of country. It’s something we try and do with Hannah’s Yard songs – remain on the “poppier” side of any musical style we work with. I am so happy to see them successful…a Number One album and another tour coming up – I hope Hannah’s Yard follow in their footsteps one day!

Are you into vinyl? Prefer downloads?

I see that vinyl albums are on the rise – and I love the idea of them. A few of my friends have (new!) record players and buy recently-released albums on vinyl – they do sound great…more “open” with more “life” in the recordings! I’m definitely more of a download person, though; I like being able to instantly download a song as soon as I’ve heard it on the radio or TV; I guess I’m a bit impulsive like that. And, of course, that’s why we’ve got our debut album available for pre-order on iTunes now!

How old were you when you realized you wanted to be a singer?

I have always loved singing and being a singer was a massive dream of mine ever since I was small. I went through schooling believing that I’d have to do “something different” as becoming a singer was really tough. Whilst studying for my A Levels in Sixth Form, I applied to read English Language at University; I applied as I didn’t have any idea of what I wanted to do as a career and had no other options! Luckily, I’d met fellow-Yardies Barnaby Pinny and James Reader when I was 14 and had sung for them on and off since then. They gave me the opportunity to record a debut album instead of going to Uni; it wasn’t a tough decision for me to make! I was finally able to follow my childhood dream – and so far, so good. We’ve got a debut album being released and a small UK tour with BBC Radio Two favourite Gordon Haskell underway. I’d never have thought it possible!

Do you play any instruments?

I have Grade One in piano…not that I can remember much of that now! I taught myself to play acoustic guitar when I was 12 and still like to play music at home whilst singing along. In Hannah’s Yard I’m very lucky to get to sing with a band of amazing musicians who’re used to playing for Lionel Richie, Annie Lennox and Kylie amongst others! It’s amazing to be supported by them and it allows me to enjoy (and concentrate on!) my vocals.

Are your parents supportive of you pursuing a music career? (Does music run in the family?)

I’m very lucky as my parents are extremely supportive of me, coming to gigs and encouraging me along this weird (yet wonderful) musical path. My whole family is very musical – my Mum loves to sing, my Auntie is a piano teacher, five other family members play the guitar and my Grandparents have been in multiple choirs. Family get-togethers are rarely quiet occasions! I used to sing in my local church choir when I was young and take part in school talent shows (that I was lucky enough to win a few times). I do think that music runs in my blood!

Which is your favourite of the new songs?

Our upcoming album Beginnings is close to its release date (Friday 12th May). I can’t wait for it to finally be available for everyone to hear. I can honestly say that I love every track as they’re all slightly different in style/emotion, but I really like the late-night vibe of “Close Enough” and thoroughly enjoyed filming the music video for it…you can check that out on our Youtube channel HannahsYardHQ!

Do you get a chance to go to concerts? What are a few of the more memorable ones you’ve been to?

A few years back I went to Bestival in the Isle of Wight and saw Chic and Nile Rogers headlining on the Sunday night. It was an amazing show – as a stage performance and, of course, the songs! More recently I’ve seen the Shires and really enjoyed their blend of vocals. I do try and go to as many live concerts as possible; The Stables Theatre at Wavendon is local to me and hosts lots of great music. I’ve recently seen a real mix of artists there: Jo Harman, Gilmore Roberts and Stacey Kent. Hannah’s Yard performed to a sold-out crowd in their Stage 2 space last year…a brilliant night!

How involved are you in the writing and producing process? I see, in the credits, that you co-wrote one song. Do you give suggestions/feedback?

We’re lucky to have our own recording studio, so I was present for a great deal of the recording/mixing process. I really enjoyed seeing a song go through the journey from “bare bones” to fully-produced track…and how that process can (and did!) become a labour-of-love for all involved. Songs from our album Beginnings were mastered in New York by Ryan Smith, who has worked on albums from James Taylor to Adele. There really is a reason that we’re so pleased with our debut album – whilst it’s lovely to receive such kind comments about my vocals, there’s two guys (Barnaby Pinny and James Reader) hidden behind the scenes who are great songwriters and producers and, in addition to that, we’ve a group of amazing musicians who record/perform with us. Everyone brings their expertise to the Hannah’s Yard creative process and I hope it shows. “You Worked It Out” is Track 9 from Beginnings. I co-wrote it and really enjoyed the experience; I’d never written a proper song before. We took a personal story of mine and made it into a stripped-down acoustic song that I absolutely love! Norah Jones and Katie Melua didn’t set-out as singer-songwriters, either…their hit debut albums focused on their vocals/performance. I’m doing the same and look forward to exploring songwriting more in the future.

For more on Hannah’s Yard, visit their site. The Janey Loves website also has a nice article that details their background.