Debut album released 24th January 2011 on Static Caravan
Hannah Peel’s debut album, Broken Wave, is set to kick 2011 off with style. A lovelorn spun tale of falling in love, rejection and life’s trivia, it’s a breathtaking release in which Peel channels her melancholy and aspirations into cantering ditties destined for much greater things than the intimate atmosphere they evoke.
From playing fiddle with her dad in Ireland to her time as part of a multi-media band in Liverpool, the genesis of Peel confounds expectations of the ’typical’ artist. Indeed, Peel is a multi-instrumentalist playing practically everything on the record, drawing particular inspiration from her Irish upbringing but with a unique twist on her own Yorkshire roots (especially evident in her use of brass band). Amazing when you consider she started writing songs after simply “working on a theatre show that needed songs and I had to sing them myself.” After the discovery of a supposedly ephemeral music box, a device she subsequently used to cover a quartet of eighties classics on debut EP Rebox (and uses on the album itself), an epiphany occurred: “after doing the covers, I thought, well I could do this myself…”
And so she has, and Broken Wave teems with the effervescence of life. Bringing Tunng’s Mike Lyndsay in on production duties, after Static Caravan suggested him as the perfect counterpoint to her off kilter and plaintive solipsism, Peel explains, “We worked together on one track and it was just incredible the music we created in one day. Mike, straight away, sensed the nature of my songs: the melancholic lyrics and melody, the not so traditional song structures.” It’s easy to see his sonic imprint on Broken Wave, giving the tracks a sound of hopefulness and excitement amongst the sadness, be it the lilting flourishes and perverse atmospherics of traditionally Irish titled ‘Cailin Deas Cruite Na Mbo’ (meaning literally, the pretty maid who milks the cow), to the pattering rhythms and burnished brass of ’You Call This Your Home’, to which Lyndsay also contributes vocals.
Recorded in Mike and Benge’s studio (the semi legendary Playstudios - home to one of the largest collections of analogue synths in the country) in Shoreditch, the album took only three weeks to record and mix, with Nitin Sawhney composing strings for two tracks. A raft of Hannah’s friends and past accomplices complete the picture; amongst them trumpet player Lizzie Jones, whom Hannah met during her time touring with The Unthanks, and Michael O’Shaughnessy, Head of illustration at the Liverpool Art School, best known for Elbow’s ‘Leaders of the Freeworld’ album artwork.
Despite the synergetic nature of her work, this is Hannah’s album. Her voice at times bewitching, at times laconic, always full of fortitude and as influenced by the still life gaze of Edward Hopper as the arrangements of Nick Drake, Tom Waits, or the expansive pop of her heroes Sandy Denny, Judee Sill and Joni Mitchell. Ask her for details and you’ll get only fragments of the vision: “New horizons…discovering your first love, leaving, missing and longing.” with the sea as metaphor, powerful and delicate, signifying parting and travelling somewhere both old and new. Her words loaded with pathos, finally, listen, submerge yourself fully, and discover a sound as timeless as the tides themselves.