Looking for clues
When a new Hanson album comes out there is naturally interest in the theme, influences or driving factors that have been at work behind the scenes.
With This Time Around, an innocent and hungry fan base had soaked up leaked demos with excitement, without realising until months or even years later, that all had not been rosy between band and label. This album, despite any difficulties, kicked the Oklahoman dust up into the faces of those who thought Hanson a one hit wonder.
With Underneath – released 9 years ago last Saturday – a huge sense of joy and celebration was felt across the globe as fans received the album that had taken over 3 years of hard work and determination from conception to birth.
Following Underneath’s release, the themes of hope, self belief, independence and passion that surrounded Hanson’s “Are You Listening” campaign, took them to universities across America as they told their story through discussions and the film, “Strong Enough to Break”.
By the time “The Walk” was finished, Hanson had grown into their business and been moved to use their music to respond to the issues of HIV/AIDS and poverty in Africa.
The message of “The Walk” was hope and passion applied to life, from questions of personal identity and courage, to how the world can be changed.
“Shout It Out” celebrated Hanson’s confidence as independent artists with strong musical roots. It unashamedly referenced some of their favourite artists and styles of song. It was a declaration of who Hanson were at that time, with the bright colours and strong images in the art work underlining the nature of their music and identity. They declared themselves to be “quintessentially American”, a mix of everything that flows down the Mississippi and they encouraged the listener to be equally courageous in stating who they were.
So it might be expected that with the release of Anthem just around the corner, it would be possible to read the clues about the thinking behind album 6.
If you were looking for clues, some of the recent promotional appearances on radio and TV would not have been very helpful.
Hanson have been seen walking like old men over the MMMBop video. They have given adept responses to cheeky questions about their personal lives and in so doing, demonstrated their ability to outwit their hosts and keep their dignity. They have talked of being 21 and smiled through familiar questions about the usual stuff.
At the same time, three tracks from Anthem have been performed or played on air and the interest in Hanson, from twitter followers to MTV red carpet interviews have served to pave the way for June 18th.
Whilst previous Hanson albums, for various reasons, have given up some of their secrets before the release, Anthem remains something of a mystery.
If anything is clear, it is that Hanson has recorded an album that brings their musical preferences together in a new way. From rock, through blues, via melodic ballads and Motown, to stadium anthem, this music has variety.
And taking a break last summer seems to have fueled their desire and capacity for bigger sounds – drawing on their skills as instrumentalists.
It has made space for innovation, nurtured some creative tension and allowed some incongruity into the mix.
If the De:constructed, Re:calibrated and Re:made can be interpreted at this stage – and that is an IF – Hanson will deliver an Album which in the listening and looking illustrates what Taylor Hanson spoke of in a recent interview.
He spoke of the need to focus on the things that are really important…to decide what “we want for the next decade”… to consider “how do we keep this band driving forward” … to “recognise how each (member of band) is different” and to realise that “differences are your strengths”.
The art work from Anthem complete with the flame, light bulb and lightning is bound to illustrate these themes when along with the music, lyrics and cover notes it is shared in June.
It seems that the adventure is really just beginning.
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