I haven't heard an album like this in awhile. Each song is simple, easy to take in, and utterly charming. They're built on clever lines, great humour, touching moments, worldly wisdom and sentimentality. Life, in all its beauty, confusion and irony. It's just the kind of record we loved John Prine for.
Hannam of course is no slouch as a writer. The Alberta troubadour has two decades worth of carefully-honed roots albums, but this one stands out. Not that he's reinvented the wheel, it's just that each song is bang-on, a collection where you go "Now that's a good one" with every new song. And you don't get used to them. Each time I've played this, the same thing has happened, where every one of the eleven tracks grabs my attention is some way.
It starts out that way with a great couplet, on lead track "Long Haul": "I ain't in it for the short term/I'm in it for the slow burn." In "Beautiful Mess," a duet with Shaela Miller, is a classic "We can't break up, who else would have us?" tune: "Oo wee baby, you and me are a tragedy/a shipwreck and a house ablaze/an earthquake and a tidal wave." And lines that might be too much like a Hallmark greeting card in a lesser writer's hands come out sincere and important from Hannam: "May you die young at heart at a ripe old age." Ain't life something? Don't overthink it.