HANNAH WICKLUND & THE STEPPIN' STONES
This is the third album from Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin’ Stones. Featuring the undeniably wondrous songwriting/vocal/fretboard talents of Wicklund, this South Carolina born, East Nashville based lady and her fellow musical comrades have crafted a true gem. I have to say, I wasn’t familiar with their previous work when this turned up in the post for review, but I’ll certainly be backtracking and checking out the rest.
What's perhaps most astonishing is just how accomplished and mature sounding a record this is, considering Wicklund’s still only 22 years old. I would have also commented on how astutely creative this is compositionally, and how organically proficient her performance sounds for someone so young, but she's been at it since the age of 8 apparently, which is when she formed this band, so she does actually already have years of experience behind her. And it can be heard. In spades. And bands/artists who are on album number whatever could only dream of writing and recording music this emotionally nourishing. And so natural sounding.
One of the most refreshingly engaging qualities of the album is the way Wicklund appropriates various genre idioms, but infuses them with her own sense of creative autonomy. There are discernible 60s/70s/80s guitar-centric rock idioms to be heard throughout, but all with a twenty first century polish, and filtered through a fresh, modern edge. As such, the music transcends mere genre mimicry and straightforward pastiche to offer up her own take on rock of yore. It feels familiar, yet simultaneously of the here and now, with very much its own identity.
On what is an incredibly well produced/mixed album, all the instrumentalists gel perfectly throughout, in each and every track. There’s zero filler; every song is a winner, and each one with its own aural personality. There’s no mindless regurgitation of genre monolithism to be heard. The quality of the songwriting is incredible. Another level from most, such is the consistency throughout. And Wicklund possesses that magical combination of a widely expressive voice and widely expressive fretboard abilities... both 100% natural sounding and, at times, in perfect emotional union in the affective depths she achieves through transitioning from voice to guitar licks, solos, riffs, arpeggios, etc. And all in perfect synthesis with the other instruments, with everything combining as one in the most exciting of ways, to ensure the album remains a thoroughly engaging listen from beginning to end.
I've been listening to this for a few weeks now and, amongst a whole load of other promos sat in my review pile, this is the one I keep going back to. It has me hooked with its alluring charms, I must say; drawing me back for another fix, time and again. And it leaves me feeling satisfied and with a warm glow, each and every time I engage with its profoundly affective magnetism. Wicklund indubitably has the wow factor. Her artistic personality weaves through each and every bar of every single song, and oozes a ton of sonic charisma. She’s a momentous talent and, alongside her Steppin’ Stones brethren, has delivered an album that stands head and shoulders above other acts within an oversaturated, often diluted, retro rock scene. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the next big thing in renovated retro rock. Buy it, savour it, cherish it, and enjoy its many charms, for it’s not every day an album this magnificent comes around.
Strawberry Moon Records
HANNAH WICKLUND & THE STEPPIN' STONES
Review by Mark Holmes
13th Sept 2019
1) Bomb Through the Breeze
3) Looking Glass
4) Mama Said
5) On the Road
7) Strawberry Moon
8) Too Close to You
9) Meet You Again
10) Shadow Boxes and Porcelain Faces
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"Wicklund indubitably has the wow factor. Her artistic personality weaves through each and every bar of every single song, and oozes a ton of sonic charisma. She’s a momentous talent... Ladies and gentlemen, I present the next big thing in renovated retro rock."