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HANNAH SANDERS - Charms Against Sorrow

HANNAH SANDERS - Charms Against Sorrow
Sungrazing Records SGR001

A new name to me, Hannah learned her trade through the family band, The Dunns, who I had heard of. She has recently returned to both Britain and music after a time across the water. This is her first solo full length album, on which she is accompanied by Jon Thorne on bass and three members of what is fast becoming one of my favourite bands, The Willows. In fact it is Ben Savage who provides some wonderful dobro, echoing the amazing soaring vocals of Hannah.

Ben is also responsible for the engineering and production on Charms Against Sorrow, allowing Hannah’s voice to tell all the stories in these traditional tracks. Truth to say that most are well known to audiences, or have been, but have been given a freshness in their arrangements. They are based on a mixture of British and American influences, but in all the story is clearly told, giving each the respect they deserve.

Lord Franklin has long been a particular favourite of mine, since first hearing Therapy’s wonderful version, so it was good to hear Hannah’s version of it, which also does it justice. She proves to be equally at home when singing unaccompanied on A Sailor’s Life or with full backing.

There are two tracks which are credited to specific writers, of which The Werewolf is a particular highlight on this collection. Those old enough will remember Barry Dransfield doing this many years ago.

There is one track that I could have done without as it reminds me of school singing lessons and a live album by a woolly-sweatered group of the sixties. I’ll leave you to work out which one, but thank goodness for the skip button on the remote! If I had never heard the version I have alluded to, I would have been singing Hannah’s praise for hers, but some things are just too ingrained...

All in all, this is a fine collection of songs, well sung and well recorded, revisiting some old ‘friends’ – something which I for one am glad to see happening. I recently had the chance to see Hannah Sanders performing much of the material from Charms Against Sorrow live, accompanied by Ben. She certainly had me under her spell!

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 108 of The Living Tradition magazine.