And still they came, from all over Europe, to Australia and beyond. “A new and special collaboration project,” wrote Laurel Canyon Music. “The production is refreshingly warm, authentic, and honest...another exciting chapter in Hannah’s music journey.” Norway's Musikk Nyheter considered it “one of the best Americana albums of 2020.” Respected broadcasters such as BBC Scotland's Iain Anderson and Radio Ulster's Ralph McLean added their airplay approval.
Anticipation for the record had grown with each preview single, including the infectious Spotify hit 'City Beats' (featured on BBC Radio 2, Country Hits and Spotify's own Very Nearly Nashville playlist, leading to 125,000-plus streams). The intensely personal and affecting true story 'My Father,' the sensitive and atmospheric 'Never Get Along' and 'Pay Me A Compliment' also helped set the scene for one of the year's most compelling albums.
The album came into being even as White continued to expand her substantial following on the roots circuit in Scandinavia. She returned to Norway with the band in August 2019 to headline the Bergen International Americana Festival, which attracted news coverage from Billboard magazine. The band also travelled to the UK for acclaimed performances at Black Deer, Larmer Tree and the British Country Music Festival.
Matching the commitment to social inclusion that's evident in her songs, White and Marshall will soon open a new, 250-capacity south London location of the Sound Lounge, their award-winning music venue, arts centre and community space. It's helped to launch some rising stars of British roots music onto the national stage, and everyone who visits becomes part of the Sound Lounge family.
Meanwhile, their additional, pop-up venue in Morden, Surrey was welcoming roots artists and audiences alike all the way into lockdown, and made national and international headlines as one of the very first venues to be able to stage safe entertainment on the easing of restrictions in August 2020. “Bringing people together through music is just transformative,” says Hannah. “I want it to help others in the way that it helped me.”
When people talk about the songs of Hannah White, they talk about passion, honesty, social conscience and joyful musicality. With the release of her groundbreaking new album, that conversation is getting louder and louder.
The London-born singer-songwriter established herself as one of the UK's freshest talents via such solo albums as Whose Side Are You On? in 2016 and the 2018 follow-up Elephant Eye. The latter's charming flagship single 'In It For Love' won airplay on BBC Radio 2, 6 Music and BBC London as one of six tracks to receive radio attention. A raft of positive reviews picked up on White's singular melodic and lyrical flair and signposted the incredibly inclusive and stirring live shows that she's been playing for a decade.
But in 2020, lockdown be damned, Hannah has raised the bar once again. Her concert appearances were paused like everyone else's, but her songcraft is ringing out truer than ever as she rises to a groundbreaking new challenge. Early June brought the release of a unique and exciting album with her Anglo-Norwegian Americana band, titled Hannah White and the Nordic Connections.
Hannah and her husband and guitarist Keiron Marshall recorded it with their Norwegian bandmates, all of them in-demand A-listers, in a bread factory in Bergen. It's every bit as spontaneous as that sounds, a refreshingly analogue gathering of new-found friends that features slide guitar, banjo, harmonica and other Americana ingredients.
On its release, the reviews weren't just approving, they were passionate. “The restraint, the range, the softness, the clarity, the levels...” marvelled Fatea magazine. “All appropriately placed in delivering this masterpiece.” Your Life In A Song called it “a record that may have been made in Bergen, Norway, but belongs in Nashville, Tennessee.” Highway Queens admired the album's “classic country sound with a soulful touch…oozes beauty.” Vocal comparisons with Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline and other giants abounded.
W21 Music singled out several highlights, notably 'Pay Me A Compliment,' which “could not be more Nashville if Lee Ann Womack stepped up to provide the vocals.” The as-live recording, they said, made for “a incredibly rich warm sound...this is an album that musically takes us on a number of diverting and rewarding journeys. It also reveals Hannah to be the possessor of a voice at ease in a number of styles from classic country through to soul while at the same time not forgetting her natural UK roots.”