Noughts & Crosses
Ms White is a committed singer-songwriter of the quite tense persuasion and very concerned with social issues. Yes, I should be running a mile ……BUT ! having met her and hung out a little, what she is doing makes a kind of sense. Most of us care about something, even deep down and even if it’s some ropey football club or that there’s a new Harry Potter book or..something. Hannah feels the world at large can be unsympathetic to those in need, not that she needs a blackhearted berk like me to paraphrase her.
Blessed with a great tuneful voice, ideas and guitar accompaniment skills, Hannah deserves a listen and those that do universally sing her praises as someone original amongst the many singer-songwriter types out there in South London and beyond. Being a dirt and rust soaked roots player and singer most of the time, I have to readjust to take this stuff in, initially it sounds too pure and mannered for my liking however it is valid and soulful music in a different form. Which makes savouring it very worthwhile.
A change in approach from her albeit very listenable previous record ‘Poetry’, what ‘Noughts & Crosses’ does is present White in a ‘basics’ setting and let the words come through. To me, she’s a poet who happens to sing…overall, her positivity is her flag.
‘Higher’ has a fascinating Middle Eastern sound, with table and sitar whisperings in the background, the vocal beguiling and almost like Sheila Chandra in softer form ; ‘Sending You My Love’ has slow deliberate and sparse drum rhythm, lovey voices tumbling around the tune and wafting into a weave as a piano figure rolls away in the background. An unworldly sound and very wintery
‘Cruise’ has an electro pulse and White’s breathy vocal floats in. needs some Fender Rhodes piano imho, to warm it all up
‘Unconditional Love’ is set at a solemn pace, almost Russian in timbre..all rather strange for a love song, but expression is expression and al least the usual clichés are kept at bay.The cello is neat touch.
‘VIP Seats’ has lovely piano and guitar backing over a sprightly rhythm and immediately the icy spell of preceding songs is dispelled plus some of the best singing on the set can be found here ; ‘Whoops’ I believe to be a live favourite and has reflective keyboard setting, one of the best songs included here and a bit like a song from a French film in structure, seems to be about judgmental people.
‘Flawless’ has a funkier feel altogether – Hannah, anytime you want to play this with some wahwah guitar, just let me know ! ‘Cobwebs in the Snow’ is rhythmic and shows a hint of Suzanne Vega, an influence on our lass as I understand it. A good inclusion and an haunting melody to boot.
‘Roll Over’ isn’t about the Lottery – almost a soul ballad with knife-edge lyric..ouch !
‘Who You Were & What We Had’ uses a more urgent tempo and once again what a good vocal, synths twitching along and very catchy when the bridge hits.
‘Everbody Wants’ is softer than chocolate mousse in sound but the verses are urgently delivered, edge of desparate – as a buzzy guitar comments in the background.
In summary Hannah White can sing , she can play, she can compose…sometimes this set slips into a very chilly ambience so maybe a couple of pure ‘fun’ numbers would have balanced things up a tad. But make no mistake, there are many gems lurking in this sonic selection box