nodepression: The Roots Music Authority
John Wort Hannam is a relative newcomer to music. He spent years teaching English on the country’s largest native reserve deep in the Blackfoot confederacy until a fateful encounter with a Loudon Wainwright III record inspired him to buy a guitar and learn a few chords. Ten years later, ‘Queen’s Hotel’ is Hannam’s third album and the second one produced by Steve Dawson, the hardest working man in Canadian roots music.
Queen’s Hotel is an instantly likeable collection of songs that is blessed with a wide open, recorded off the floor feel, and like all of Dawson’s productions there are many instrumental highlights and breath taking musical moments.
In particular, the interplay between Hannam’s voice - tempered by his clear ringing guitar - and the rest of the band is delightful to listen to from beginning to end.
Like Gordie Tentrees, Hannam writes about what he knows and through the course of eleven songs, listeners are treated to his heartfelt ruminations on life, work and love in the twenty first century. While Hannam may lack some of the lyrical depth of – say – Bruce Cockburn or The Deep Dark Woods, there is something very likeable about the persona he presents in his songs. To that end, Queen’s Hotel is surprisingly successful and there’s not really a dud or clunker track on the record. In fact, it would be safe to say that the opening track ‘With the Grain’ is a near perfect song. Light and breezy, yet imbued with an undercurrent of yearning, it embodies all that is good about Canadian roots music. I can’t stop listening to it.
Queen’s Hotel may turn out to be the sleeper album of the fall of 2009. It is a relaxed and endearing affair that will grow on you with repeated listenings. Definitely worth checking out.