Michelle & Jason Hannan – Cheater’s Waltz
The 13-cuts featured on this set are compiled as both stand-alone songs or played as part of a conceptualized piece. Michelle & Jason Hannan wrote songs to accompany a story about a woman who’s had bad luck with romance & decides to take another chance. So, the tale begins when she meets an interesting stranger in a bar. That’s it – no spoilers. Does she find what she’s looking for? Is there a happy ending? A tragic ending? Or just a lesson to be learned?
The songs have interludes with piano & mandolin or pedal steel guitarist/dobroist Howard Parker’s instrumentals. It’s a cohesive attempt to at least approach a standard subject of country-folk music with some enthusiastic originality & creativity. They succeed.
Vocally, Michelle has a thin country voice that is charming & Jason’s voice has a robust upbeat old-style vocal resonance. It’s when they sing together that the songs are enriching – “Before I Met You,” is excellent if you like songs written with a vintage flair.
Cheater’s Waltz (Waiting for Lester Records-Drops June 18) is further developed as an interesting listen with the interlude of “Loren’s Lament,” played by guest musician Howard Parker (resonator guitar) & Jason (acoustic guitar/mandolin/electric bass & drums). It’s a short instrumental but its haunting air is beautifully rendered.
Michelle’s voice is more satiny on “Here We Are In December,” & applies her vocal expertise in an Emmylou Harris tradition. Jim Robeson adds a European touch with accordion followed by the penetrating strings of Howard’s pedal steel guitar. The title track “Cheater’s Waltz,” is old-world country but with finesse. Will it get airplay on CAT Country? Probably not. Will it get added to radio shows that feature a more country tradition & appreciate what new artists bring to that genre? Absolutely. The tunes are well-recorded, pristine sounding & never sound too retro. The vintage quality is highly polished & faithful. The late fiddle/banjo player John Hartford (“All In My Love For You,” “Gentle On My Mind”) would play & sing a song like this in concert. He would indeed appreciate this couple’s work.
The thread throughout this project is performing these newly composed songs with a pinch of antiquity. “If You Won’t Say It’s Over,” has a Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette articulation & tone. Enjoy those old songs by those artists? The new ones by Michelle (& Jason) will be like slicing into a newly iced cake. This song could easily be a country standard.
A dip into Merle Haggard/Waylon Jennings territory vocally comes with “Livin’ On Barroom Time,” — a clever play on words. The acapella “Feel Like My Time Ain’t Long,” is a traditional melody vocally delivered with vigor & is exceptional.
The 38-minute CD was produced by Jason Hannan & available @ Amazon. https://www.onebluenight.com
Photography on CD & here courtesy of Domenic Cicala (Tortured Artist Prod) & Amy Farran Masser (Baby Face Photography).