That’s now two very strong albums in a row. Hanna has learned from a spell in Nashville, but her sharp and hooky songwriting works well beyond country, as she expresses her faith in ways that anyone can relate to.
Label: Resound Media
Time: 10 tracks / 36 mins
While Anglophile Americans like Sarah Darling are bringing country music to the UK, Yorkshire lass Philippa Hanna moved to Nashville for this one, taking on the USA at their own speciality.
The single “Off the Wagon” is one of two tracks aimed at that market, but she’s definitely hedging her bets here.
The Wizard of Oz-referencing “Dorothy” enjoys reggae rhythms; she flirts with slowed-down hip-hop (“Let ‘em Fly” and “Do the Unthinkable”) and there’s an acoustic ballad. Whatever the style, these songs are wrapped in sharp and clean production.
At first listen, you can think that she is diluting her faith down into feel-good platitudes for the wider audience, singing: “Everybody needs saving sometimes” and the somewhat fluffy line, “Keep on driving all the way to beautiful horizons,” but there’s a deeper work here. Telling how she is looking forward to Jesus’ return, Hanna urges her listeners to overcome fear with faith (“Do the Unthinkable”) and offer their dreams to God (“Let ‘em Fly”).
Her springboard is faith, described in fresh ways that anyone can relate to. She is on a mission to tell people that they are beautifully and wonderfully made, despite the pressures they feel under – hence the motivational title track, with its go-for-it attitude (and some oh-too-brief, bluesy Paul Jones harmonica at the end). She also reassures listeners that they don’t always have to be “The Hero:”
“So why don't you give yourself a break
You don't have to be the hero
You don't have to have the world all figured out...
If it's hard it's ok, you don't have to be perfect.”
On her other country track, the excellent, Bruce Carroll-like story-song "Getting on with Life" about cutting people some slack, she sings, “We’re all just getting on with living, trying to be forgiving when we don’t see eye-to-eye.” It is a fine way to accessibly take her worldview to others.
Keeping her balance, she ends with a couple of covers: the traditional “I Saw the Light,” with a David Crowder feel to it, and a beautifully-sung rendition of the classic “Always on my Mind” that brings out all its emotion without overwrangling it
Not only does this disc show that she keeps developing, but she is putting the faith she sings about in “Let ‘em Fly” into action.