Jim Hanlon,
The Cormier Sessions: Vol. I
(independent, 2015)

Jim Hanlon has a wonderful voice that warms the soul regardless of the often sad content of his lyrics, both from his own pen as well as the ones he chooses from other writers. His songs evoke a locale that obviously has a great attraction for him, but by the very fact that it is local it can call out to us wherever we live.

He opens with "Hometown Bay," a poignant track that will resonate with anyone who has had to live away from their native land, town or village. He continues that uncanny knack of tuning into our own feelings by writing of his own life (we assume) with the heartfelt "Reason Why."

This theme appears to continue with "Long Way Home," with its fantastic fiddle riff in the middle -- an instrument ideally suited to the sadness expressed.

It is impossible to pick a favourite from this collection of 15 tracks, but "Remembrance Day" must come out very close to the top. The sentiments, lyrics, accompaniment and delivery gel so beautifully that it would emerge as a classic of its type if given sufficient exposure. Another classic of course is Stan Rogers' "45 Years," and Hanlon truly does it proud.

"The Journey" is a lovely jaunty song that lifts the spirits regardless of a slightly sad message. "Molly May" will bring a tear to the eye of any seafarer or native of a fishing town or village, as Hanlon gives expression to David Francey's evocative song about a boy set to a career at sea and the life on a ship of that name.

If you like guitar music do not miss "Guitar Widow." A lovely intro draws us into another beautiful story-song that will resonate with any musician.

The expertise and obvious love of the music and songs continues on tracks like "She Loves Roses Too" and "When Love is True." Another favourite of mine, "Victory in Effort," is a fantastic song giving us a credo for life that extols the truism that "it's not all about winning" but advising us to try and to ignore the critics.

This is a wonderful album that should be sought out -- even if it does take an effort to find.

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

7 February 2015

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