Hannah Cohen - Welcome Home - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Hannah Cohen - Welcome Home

by Howard Scott Rating:8 Release Date:2019-04-26
Hannah Cohen - Welcome Home
Hannah Cohen - Welcome Home

If you are not really familiar with the force of nature that is the voice of Hannah Cohen, you won’t have to wait too long when hitting the play button on her new album “Welcome Home”.

 Immediately on opener “This Is Your Life” Cohen’s high register, almost operatic pipes hit you with the force of a windstorm. The strong vocals are blended perfectly with minimalist but balanced musical backgrounds to create a pleasant introduction to the third album by the New York based singer/songwriter. 

The title of “Welcome Home” is actually something of a misnomer here since the album was basically conceived and produced in New York City, but during a time when Cohen decided she had had enough of big city life and looked to escape to the more pastoral landscapes of Woodstock, farther upstate. Several of the tunes speak to this restlessness to move on, with “What’s This All About” being the most poignant. A basic piano ballad, the lyric speaks of the old town basically driving her crazy and the uneasiness that moving on can bring on. Another standout, “Old Bruiser” describes a history of memories, good and bad, that eventually fade away like bruises over time. 

Categorizing the music on “Welcome Home” can be a challenging assignment since she covers everything from dream pop to heavier electronic stylings such as on “Wasting My Time”. The synth lines get more ominous and compete with the vocal for really the only time on the record. The bubbly keyboard work gives the tune a “wall of sound” feel that works very well, and isn’t repeated on the disc. 

Tropical beats also are represented on “Get In Line” which finds Cohen using her nylon-stringed acoustic guitar to produce a soundscape of swaying palm trees and grass skirts. 

Speaking of her guitar, there is some fancy picking’ going on on “Return Room”. It is basically just Cohen’s incredible vocal instrument combined with a minimal amount of basic guitar backing, and it blends into a perfect example of indie folk. There is no lack of beauty in the composition. 

“All I Wanted” carries one of the more unusual lyrical stories on the album. Cohen sings that she will “Play your records all the time”, but also wants to “Take you for a last ride”. Sounds a bit sinister. She also mentions that she can “Feel you in my bones. Don’t tell me this love is wrong”.  I don’t know if this is a soundtrack to a “Fatal Attraction” situation or an update on Leon Russell’s “Superstar” from the seventies. Probably neither, but it does get your attention. Again, the music is gorgeous, so what she is singing about is basically just added enhancement.

The album finale “Build Me Up” shows another side of the talent. This short two and a half minute song is almost a solo vocal effort, other than very minimal guitar strumming. Eventually the rest of the band chimes in, but this laid back short and sweet effort really shows off the chops of the singer while also highlighting the musicians behind her. 

Those musicians include bassist Brian Betancourt and drummer extraordinaire Vishal Nayak. Both are seasoned veterans that have contributed to various indie bands. Betancourt is the usual bass player for Sam Evian’s live band, and Evian produced “Welcome Home”, so its all in the family. Evian, whose real name is  Sam Owens, is also currently Cohen’s partner. 

Since these songs were inspired by an urge to move on from cosmopolitan life to a more laid back existence, it will be interesting to see where the change takes Cohen in the future. Regardless, she has created an exquisite set of tunes on “Welcome Home”. The life that inspired them has served her and her listeners well in the creative process.

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