“From the foot of Ben Bulben to the peaks of the Appalachians, Old Hannah’s blend of traditional and contemporary influences reveals a unique country-roots sound that transcends geography and generations,” is how the band describe themselves on their website. It’s a description that the band live up to.
Old Hannah capture the quintessential heart of folk on from the opening track, the titular Irish Boys. “From Connacht where it started/To Virginia where Old Tommy Met his end,” Lucie Crichlow sings; sweet and breathy in her delivery. She could, just easily be describing the band’s music as much as their story’s character.
This is a band who are proud of where they come from, but also wish to celebrate the influences that made them what they are. All three elements – voice, guitar and banjo – blend seamlessly, making up for the lack of variation in the vocals.
Harmonies across the board are magnificant, no more so than on Saro Jane. The band exercise great control over their vocals and pauses, all which add to the profound intimacy of the track. Here is a band who know who they are – their sound is not contrived, just honest and, ultimately, simple.
What is most striking about this EP and this band is probably their love of the craft. This is apparent on closing track Sail Away – a tongue-in-cheek finisher that captures the very heart of country and folk music. Persistant and unfaltering, Crichlow’s voice demands attention during the sparse intro, before being joined by her bandmates.
“This boat’s my home/See how she blows,” Crichlow crows as the banjo picks up pace. It is obvious from the first listen that this is a band that is comfortable with who their and how they sound. ‘Irish Boys’ is an impressive, albeit brief introduction to one of the most exciting new Irish bands at the moment.