Hannah Cohen’s story can make for quite an envious read. As a teenager she travelled the world, forging a modelling career for various artists and photographers, before one day picking up a guitar on holiday and realising an equal talent as a songstress. While performing on the New York scene, Hannah was noticed by part-time Johnson and National collaborator, Doveman, aka Thomas Bartlett, who produced this debut and assembled a backing band that includes the excellent Sam Amidon and Rob Moose.
Child Bride starts off with the touched glass tones of Don’t Say, as we are first introduced to Hannah’s vocal sweetness. Lying somewhere between Tracyanne Campbell and Cat Power, this cloudy ballad offers a drifting soundtrack to a relationship in a tangle. A dirge of muted brass sparks the arrival of the brooding The Simplest, as an overarching theme of love and loss develops, narrowly avoiding the pitfalls of dwelling indulgence.
Despite unwavering from the tragic, California provides a refreshing airy feel, before we are treated to some subtle electronics on Boy + Angel. Originally recorded in a more sombre light for Doveman debut The Acrobat, it is reworked here beautifully. Deep rounded bass and child-like synths build to an anti-summer hit, before Bartlett’s busy piano discordance creates a striking album moment.
Sorry displays another deconstruction of the song-writing process that seemingly exists somewhere just south of the present. The stereo imaging creates two contrasting views – traditional composition to left side, while the right experiments with some fourth dimensional strangeness.
Child Bride is a gentle, yet densely textured album with lush, haunting tales of heartache and redemption. Cohen’s ensemble will expose unheard compliments and counterpoints with each listen. It’s a hushed yet powerful record that provides a familiar tenderness. This could have easily fallen into the generic trap, but is set apart by an outright craftsmanship that should be applauded.