Troubadour John Wort Hannam is a native of the United Kingdom. His family migrated to Canada in the '70s. He used to teach English on a Blackfoot Indian reservation. This is his fourth CD and second produced by Steve Dawson best known now for producing Things About Comin' My Way - A Tribute to The Music of The Mississippi Sheiks. Hannam was the 2009 winner of the Calgary Folk Music Festival Songwriting Competition. Among his influences are two other Canadians Gordon Lightfoot and Ian Tyson, but Hannam sounds more like John Gorka or Guy Clark than either of them.
The band consists of Hannam, guitar and vocals; Dawson, guitar, Dobro, banjo and organ; John Reischman, mandolin; Rob Becker, bass; Geoff Hicks, drums; and Tyler Bird, accordion. Much of Hannam's songwriting is autobiographical, and his narrative-story telling style works well with the bluegrass backing.
"Pier 21" tells the story of Hannam's family migration to Canada. On "With The Grain" he tells his father that he will give up teaching to pursue his singing and songwriting. "Requiem For A Small Town" shines with lyrics like, "How bout we get all dressed up, go out, get all messed up." On "Church of the Long Grass," Hannam sings, "I've always seen this land as holy, I guess I always will." "Mind tells my heart I'm better off alone/sometimes my heart has a mind of its own/ come back to me, dear." "Shipwright oh Shipwright/build me ship to carry me home/I long for a kiss from my sweet Lilly's lips." "Sometimes I lay beside you/and I listen to you breathe/and I think to myself/ this is how a millionaire must feel" from "Honey, When I Drink Too Much." "Worth A Damn" is a duet withJenny Whitely. Dawson and Reischman's accompaniment light up the lyrics.
Hannam is one of the best new songwriters I've heard. Look for everyone to begin recording his songs.