A confession: I started listening to Hannah Aldridge’s Gold Rush somewhat in the background, while I was doing other things. There were a lot of things on the to-do list and instead of being able to sit down and really listen, the background listening seemed to be the best way to become familiar with it. Except it very quickly stopped being something I could listen to without it pushing its way into the foreground, and it also didn’t take long before I was hearing the songs in my head all the time. For me, as a listener – and, first and foremost, a reviewer has to be a listener – that is the prize: songs that I’m carrying with me, songs that won’t leave me alone, songs that I’m humming, songs that I can’t wait to hear again.
Aldridge is a daughter of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and she embraces that heritage in her lyrics. She opens the album with ‘Aftermath’, in which she declares ‘I was born in a crossfire’, and she does not resile from that throughout this hugely impressive album which is country-influenced rock, with an emphasis on the rock.
Aldridge’s voice and sound remind me of Alannah Myles and Pat Benatar, who have quite different singing styles yet both come from a deep, dark place. Aldridge is prepared to go down that same well, and she pulls out track like ‘The Irony of Love’, a song laced with pain and knowing, and ‘Living on Lonely’. These more melancholy tracks are offset by the occasional upbeat track but overall this album feels like a serious piece of work, created by an artist who takes her work seriously – and that is to its great benefit. Being serious about work is not always seen as cool – if a person is really talented they shouldn’t have to try so hard, right? But the trying and the work is what allows the talent to shine. Aldridge has talent in spades, and these wonderful, thoughtful songs, executed with guts and grace, are clearly the result of hard work but are not themselves overworked.
Just as Aldridge says she was born in a crossfire, she’s also in a crucible – forged in the fire, her steel burnished, weapons held high and wielded on behalf of those who care enough to listen. She deserves to be taken as seriously as she has taken this work, and this is a mighty fine album.
Gold Rush is out now in Europe and will be released on 16 June in the UK and other parts of the globe, via Rootys Music.