On the recent release Coast to Coast by Ban Hatton he barks up the all too familiar topic of a failed personal relationship and takes it on with an acoustic guitar, a harmonica and a bit of heartache. You should be able to figure out what Hatton is all about within the first song unless you have been living in a cave for most of your life. The lyrics are pretty much a straightforward narrative that mostly avoid ambiguity, metaphors and don’t require more than surface level thinking to understand.
Hatton isn’t a bad songwriter by any stretch of the imagination but the music sounds like a carbon copy of a cliché we have hearing since the 1950’s. The six songs on Coast to Coast revolve around simple chord progressions and a lone soldier facing a world of trouble where nothing else but his love for music can get him through the day. Serve me a bourbon and make it a double.
The opening song is entitled “Plastic Dreams” and is a certified folk song. Hattan sings. ”lonely nights I count them one by one / bitter sweet tranquility / come get high with me and close your eyes / I’ll tell you who I’m gonna be.” It’s a solid song all around but as I mentioned prior to this it sounds a bit too familiar.
As the album progresses there isn’t a whole lot deviation from the style he opens with. “Brothers” starts with some original lyrical prose. He sings, “little white lie / little girl she’s poppin’ aderol / she’s such a loud hot mess / she’s got me feelin’ sentimental now. “ Other times he feeds the timeless tragic artist vibe by singing lines like, “whiskey on the nightstand and a pounding in my head there’s no answer, there’s no cure for what’s gone wrong.”
In my opinion making original folk music with not much more than a guitar and vocals is an extremely hard venture. I think most people will agree that The Tallest Man On Earth, Devendra Banhart and Iron and Wine were some of the most notable folk acts within the last decade but even those guys got blasted for sound like Dylan, etc.
As a songwriter and singer Hatton has skill - it’s not hard to hear that. If he hopes to leave a mark and get noticed he is going to have infuse his music with an ingredient that showcases his own essence.
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