The Lover’s Song reviewed

The Lover’s Song: eleven of Bernard Hanaway’s tunes for only £10 UK, delivered in a chichi shiny-white padded bag. Play it over and over in the discomfort of your own home, droning along until you go hoarse. It comes with a 12-page booklet with the lyrics, cleverly printed so that you can read them without a magnifying glass. 

Recorded and mixed by bassist Andrew Burnham, who was also responsible for the design of the CD package. And it would be remiss not to mention the rest of us: lead singer Jo Nicholson Smith; guitarist, synth player and webmaster Colin Wight; and Chris Ford, guest drummer. Not forgetting Penny Hedger at Alpha Duplication (High Wycombe), Jamie Hyatt at Glasshouse Studios (Cumnor), and Kate Roncoroni (Herne Hill) who re-designed the OftW logo.

But how to purchase, I hear you cry? Just go to the Contact page and send a message. You will hear back from us within 24 hours. You can pay by PayPal, cheque or bank transfer.

Feedback from listeners

“Thank you for the music! It is a fantastic album, I have it in the car and listen to it when the going gets tough … quite often, in other words!”

“For a country guitarist this is complicated music, and tellingly Cowboys and Astronauts is my favourite cut (it’s also the simplest song). Just shows you how much I know.”

“Guiding Hand – yes! Also Cowboys and Astronauts, Planet of Our Dreams, The Lover’s Song. I do like good words (lots of those), and the confident musical style and production. I like the harmonies – they bring up all sorts of references etc – but still fully itself. Where there’s a clear narrative thread, that can be heard in the mix. Good/clever/fleetfooted words. Harmonic shifts interesting but not too elusive, nice production.”

“I like Planet… very true sentiment. Integrated playing of guitars with keys and very skilled vocals… the subtle melodic changes are difficult to sing! The Lover’s Song – good song. Catchy chorus! I liked And When She Woke a lot too: the care and thoughtfulness in the lyrics, musical ideas, arrangements and instrumental performances. They are complex songs. Jo’s vocal is also very pleasing.”

“It’s bright, fresh, and has some lovely melodies. It’s reminiscent of Fairport Convention. It’s been well produced and there are many songs with a catch to them. I personally like The Lover’s Song.”

“My favourite song is And When She Woke. I love the way the words of all the songs are so poetic and tell a story, the whole album is growing on me. Jo’s voice is beautiful and blends very well with the other voice and the instrumentation is very good. You can really feel the care and time that has been put into the production of it.”

“We listened to the CD the evening we received it. Very impressed, especially with Jo’s vocal range.”

“My top track is The Wrong Words – nice combination of bitter-sweet lyrics, arrangement, and musicianship. Other highlights for me include the instrumental section on The Lover’s Song and the array of guitar sounds used across the album.”

“I’ve really enjoyed listening to it. The arrangement of the tracks works particularly well, though I was immediately drawn to one called Cowboys and Astronauts – my current favourites are Beware the Sensitive Child and the title track. It’s now vying for ‘album of the year’ alongside Mary Chapin Carpenter’s The Dirt and the Stars.

“My first impressions are very favourable and that it is in parts reminiscent of early Fairport Convention with Sandy Denny, a band I still listen to regularly.”

“For me music always comes first and words second, but I have found with your album it’s really worth listening to both. You do have a very gifted composer and writer. My knowledge of music outside classical mainstream is pathetic (putting aside my adolescent years), so I don’t know how to compare you with others. But put all that aside. I liked the sound very much and the songs I was particularly drawn to were in the middle: Cowboys and Astronauts and Planet of Our Dreams.” 

“Well, a lovely surprise arrived in the post today ! My favourite is Litter on the Shore.”

“You should be very pleased with yourselves for producing a fine piece of work. I like the vocal harmonies, the harmonica and keyboards. It’s a pity it isn’t a concept album as the writing lends itself to telling a story. Why is it I can’t get ‘into your arms’ out of my head? How dare you!”

“Excellent stuff: reminiscent of Fairport Convention. Your vocalist has a distinct Sandy Denny/ Maddy Prior feel. I liked Cowboys and Astronauts particularly. Liked the ballads with lots of minor chords. Overall, great job.”

“Just listened to the album again. I really like Cowboys and Astronauts, Planet of Our Dreams and I’m So Lazy. Candy’s favourite is North Parade!”

“So,.. favourite? The Lover’s Song or Sensitive Child or Guiding Hand. Nice solid guitar work all through, and I liked what your drummer was doing too.”

“Thanks very much for linking me to your album, which I have much enjoyed listening to whilst reading the lyrics. It’s impressive in every way. What an amazing range of instruments you can play!”

“I’ve much enjoyed your CD, somewhat to my surprise… because I’ve never liked pop music. But this is quite different, with its fascinating complexity of harmony and melody, and words that are written to be listened to and enjoyed. I also enjoyed the lovely sweet voice of the principal singer. How wise of her not to go into dreadful mock American when she sings, something that’s always seemed absurd to me. I expect the pub in ‘North Parade’ is the Rose and Crown, not the Gardeners Arms, which was my local for many years.”

Bernard Hanaway’s collage artwork for The Lover’s Song

Our own review notes

*Other reviews may be available (“These deluded dinosaurs etc…”)

1. Guiding Hand

Hanaway sets a cracking pace and they sprint away like Blondie in their pomp. A joyful ditty – almost a hymn, with its hint of divine providence. When we look up at the stars, is somebody looking down at us? Deeply profound.

2. Litter on the Shore

Quirky love tale with a whiff of The Kinks, narrated by JNS over an ocean of 70s sound. C, Bb, D minor, E, C9, A, D, B minor, F# minor, G, F, E minor, Bb, F and back to C, Bb… right in the eau-zone.

3. And When She Woke

Lordy me, Maestro Hanaway’s haunting finger-pickin’ tunes! This lyric coruscates with sprinklings of Lear and magic dust courtesy of La Smith and her mark-tree. Astral waltzing that made one critic swoon.

4. Cowboys and Astronauts

Childhood games morph into first love, recollected in wistful tranquillity by Miss Smith. Hanaway blows a campfire harmonica over the wall of guitars, bass and drums. Are y’all listening, Nashville?

5. Planet of Our Dreams

A witty and surreal concoction that just might be a chanson by Juliette Gréco. Dare I mention “Petula Clark”? The rarely-heard Suzuki Q-Chord brings even more sparkle to a catchy tune. ¡Cha cha cha!

6. I’m So Lazy

They used to open with this shuffle back in the last century, and it’s survived largely unadulterated. BH shows off on guitar, piano and vocal – with APB’s “precision” bass to the fore. A whole lotta chords.

7. Beware the Sensitive Child

Fun and mayhem as the crumblies attempt to keep a tiny tot entertained. How quickly a baby becomes an independent – not to say opinionated – little madam! Granny Smith puts us across her knee.

8. The Wrong Words

Another that harks back to the 80s, remodelled and with a pronounced Latin accent by Don Bernardo. Rock solid from the band, harmony vocals from the Tuneful Twosome and slinky gee-tar from “Isla” Wight.

9. Other Hearts

Deuxième chanson pour Mme Smith, over piano and guitars. You can almost hear the tears. Terminal communication breakdown (an OftW speciality), as l’amour goes sour. Dripping with distress and distain.

10. The Lover’s Song

Hail the English ballad from J. Barleycorn to R. Thompson! An anthem to close Glastonbury – permanently. Wave your virtual lighter and sing that tune that’s buried deep in your heart.

11. North Parade

They used to rehearse in a basement up Banbury Road, then go to the pub and talk of becoming musicians. Bah! Still talking about it 40 years on. Tempus, as they say, fugit, before you can shout “T.S. Eliot”!

Published by oftweditor

Plays the guitar a bit

One thought on “The Lover’s Song reviewed

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