CD review: RIVER OF SAND
By: Dan Brisebois
RIVER OF SAND shows two things about Lynne Hanson as an artist – her maturity and her persistence. It’s the Ottawa native’s fourth outing, and her most musically complex and diverse.
She easily crosses over between most roots rock and country boundaries, and since bursting on the scene with THINGS I MISS in 2006, she quickly became one of the brightest lights in an already shimmering Canadian independent scene. She’s won her share of blues and folk awards over the years, including the prestigious Colleen Peterson Songwriters Award from the Ontario Arts Council. She’s played the major festivals across the country, performed across Europe on more than one occasion, but still enjoys the intimacy of doing shows across Canada as part of the Home Roots tour.
Lyrically, RIVER OR SAND takes her reputation as a down to earth storyteller with a sense of genuine honesty a step further. The title track has a great swagger and a great way to lead off one of the most satisfying independent albums from start to finish. What makes there so many crowning jewels is the overall honesty woven into the promise of something better to come.
“Whiskey and Tears” and “Waiting By The Water” both offer a unique atmosphere around the same inner reflection of loss. Refreshingly, she’s able to provide an uplifting undertone to the songs. Your typical ballad of a lost love seems almost expected from an artist. And though the natural instinct to try to hold on to something that’s gone has been written a million times, “This Too Shall Pass” is a personal look at the artist, intimate and teeming with passion, as is the borderline melancholy sense of reminiscence in “This Old House.”
Meticulously clean production is one of the biggest assets to RIVER OF SAND, but at the core to a truly stellar album will always be the songs. And Hanson’s songwriting is has garnered much critical praise. The songs are just at home in an intimate solo show as they are in the studio with ffull accompaniment.
Other gems are many, but the brooding bass backbeat to “Heaven & Hell” and “Good Intentions” and all its collective spunk deserve particular mention.