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Hanson - The Walk

Hanson, The Walk

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

HANSON boys Isaac, Taylor and Zac claim to have “stepped it up a notch” creatively for their fourth studio album, The Walk, the first record in a decade they’ve made completely from scratch as an indie.

The result is an expansive, eclectic offering that’s generally easy on the ear without ever putting forward a song to blow you away. It brings to mind the style of American bands such as Counting Crows and Maroon 5 and is crammed full of radio-friendly up-tempo, mid-tempo and ballad-based recordings.

Songs like Running Man, with its party chatter intro, handclap beats and ebullient piano loops, are typical of the upbeat vibe on the album and its easy on the ear nature. They’re fine to listen to – and you may even find your feet tapping along with them – but they’re quickly forgotten afterwards.

Of the better material to be found, Great Divide is a strong example of the epic sweep of the album, which was inspired by the band’s visit to Africa. The song opens with Isaac’s funky guitar riff and the poignant sound of an African children’s choir that was recorded during the trip to Mozambique and South Africa.

Explains Isaac: “The watershed moment that sparked our journey to Africa came when friends of ours from a Tulsa medical firm were donating technology to a South African hospital to help fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. We were so moved by their example that we were compelled to take action.”

Hanson subsequently took off for South Africa and Mozambique, bringing with them a handful of songs for the album and some bare bones recording gear. They stayed at an orphanage in Mozambique and were awed by the overwhelming sense of optimism in the people they met, despite being surrounded by disease and poverty.

The group then strung up mics in the orphanage cafeteria to record the children’s choir on their laptops and subsequently recorded the children, picking out a handful of phrases that worked for the new songs.

On Great Divide, for example, they’re singing “ngi me themba”, which translates to “I have hope” – and it lends the track an extra poignant element.

Their presence adds an extra dimension to Been There Before, a funky, piano-based track that’s equally upbeat in outlook and another example of the long-player at its best.

But when Hanson drift into more ponderous ballad territory, such as Go or – to a lesser extent – Georgia, it fails to generate the same enthusiasm and tends just to exist rather than impress. Georgia‘s chorus, in particular, sounds like a latter-day Bryan Adams number.

Hanson fans will probably love it and you have to admire Hanson’s endeavour but The Walk is only ever good when it could well have been great.

Download picks: Great Divide, Fire On The Mountain, Running Man, Been There Before, Blue Sky

Track listing:

  1. Intro (Ngi Ne Themba)
  2. Great Divide
  3. Been There Before
  4. Georgia
  5. Watch Over Me
  6. Running Man
  7. Go
  8. Fire On The Mountain
  9. One More
  10. Blue Sky
  11. Tearing It Down
  12. Something Going Round
  13. Your Illusion
  14. The Walk