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HANNAH SANDERS & BEN SAVAGE — AWAKE (Proper Records)

Set to capitalise on their 2016 debut album, Before The Sun Cambridge folk act Hannah Sanders (lead vocals, guitars, Dulcimer) and Ban Savage (vocals, Dobro, guitars) are joined by Jon Thorne (double bass), Burke Carroll (pedal steel), Evan Carson (percussion), Canadian Chris Coole (banjo) and producer David Travers – Smith (horns, organ) plus additional vocals from Oh Susanna (Suzanne Ungerleider; her career hasn't blossomed as much as I once expected), Jess Morgan, Gilmore & Roberts and David Bentley. As before the album was recorded in Toronto, and in Travers - Smith(Madison Violet, Wailin' Jennys) they have a top notch man in charge; the Grammy nominated producer does a sterling job. 

In general Sanders pure and beautiful lead vocals are caressed in tender harmony vocals and immaculate understated Dobro, pedal steel, upright bass, guitars etc. They combine material of their own with I inspired covers of songs from Woody Guthrie and Billy Bragg (“Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key”; what a beautiful arrangement and rendition) and they give Pete Seeger’s “One Grain Of Sand” a timely update. Savage is on lead vocals for traditional tune “Santa Fe Trail”, as it is also given nice a run out but they fare even better on their own “Selkie Song” (aided by some sympathetic banjo) and of a slightly mystical feel, “I Met A Man”.  

Title-track “Awake” like so many is notable due to the beautiful, understated production. Savage and the angelic tones of Sanders are warmed in restrained electric guitar, and though solid enough it isn’t necessarily the strongest track. As noted above, the album has among its attributes much beauty and spare, but despite there is always a great deal happening for the listener to explore, absorb and ultimately enjoy.

         

                                                                         Maurice Hope 

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December 2018
1
Malford Milligan
75 pts.
Life Will Humble You
Royal Family Records
JF,FB
2
JD McPherson
61 pts.
Socks
New West Records
CVL,DHO,MVP,MB
3
Rosanne Cash
50 pts.
She Remembers Everything
Blue Note Records
WR,BP,JSM,HB
4
Ad Vanderveen
45 pts.
I Was Hank William
Blue Rose Records
TK,LM,BM,JB
5
John Hiatt
44 pts.
The Eclipse Sessions
New West
FC
6
The Yearlings
41 pts.
Skywriting
Lonely Sounds Records
EZ
7
Tip Jar
40 pts.
Onward
Independent
FS
8
Nathan Bell
39 pts.
Loves Bones & Stars
Angry Stick Recording Co.
RB,SZ,PG
9
The Brother Brothers
38 pts.
Some People I Know
Compass Records
BK
10
Richard Dobson
30 pts.
I Hear Singing
Brambus Records
JS,NC
11
Steve Forbert
29 pts.
The Magic Tree
Blue Rose Music
PR
12
J.P. Harris
28 pts.
Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing
Free Dirt Records
TJ
13
The Bottle Rockets
24 pts.
Bit Logic
Bloodshot Records
GS,PKO
14
Rodney Crowell
23 pts.
Christmas Everywhere
New West
 
15
Christian Kjellvander
22 pts.
Wild Hxmans
Tapete
 
16
Erin Costelo
21 pts.
Sweet Marie
Compass Records
PJ
17
Colter Wall
20 pts.
Songs of the Plains
Young Mary's Record
 
18
The Hillbenders
19 pts.
The Hillbenders
Compass Records
FH
19
Eric Bibb
18 pts.
Global Griot
Stony Plain
 
 
Karine Polwart
18 pts.
Laws of Motion
Hudson Records
HH,KG
21
Carson McHone
17 pts.
Carousel
Nine Mile Records
 
 
Malcolm Holcombe
17 pts.
Come Hell Or High Water
Gypsy Eyes Music
MF
23
Ben Bedford
16 pts.
The Hermit's Spyglass
Cavalier Recordings
SP
 
Craig Moreau
16 pts.
A Different Kind Of Train
Independent
MP
 
David Olney
16 pts.
This Side Or The Other
Black Hen Music

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