Every album I listen to for review I hope I love. That's obviously not the case with everything I hear. Last year I reviewed the acoustic folk album Coast to Coast by Ban Hatton. It was obvious that Hatton had some talent and passion but the songs followed a lot of tropes and was plagued by production issues.
A couple of weeks ago I was handed his latest album entitled Walls and after the second song I realized I was listening to an artist that has improved by leaps and bounds. It's not a marginal increase. Hatton pulled up his bootstraps, went to work and delivered an album that is in every way better than his previous effort. From the production to the lyrics I recognized an aesthetic difference but perhaps the most prolific aspect was the confidence in which Hatton delivered these songs. Suffice it to say that seeing an artist evolve is one of the things I love about this job.
Hatton kicks things off “Backed By The River” which was a solid choice. The song is just over two minutes long and reminded me of the feeling you get when waking up and looking forward to starting your day. Hatton’s lyrics are visually stimulating as he paints a scene with his words. He sings, “it’s been a couple days since I’ve seen you smile come sit by me, turn the radio down and stay a while you were so pretty that day in your dancing shoes and that polka dot dress just spinning around the room.”
“Brothers” kicks off with an acoustic guitar and harmonica. It quickly transitions into the verse, which revolves around a simple yet effective chord progression. The song is fleshed out with a catchy verse and even catchier chorus. Hatton continues to display he has grown as a songwriter with the blue collar Americana of “Going Home” but his crowning achievement is arguably “She’s Gone.” The song is covered in a good amount of melancholy and is unequivocally one of Hatton’s best vocal performances. As the album progresses Hatton delivers consistently solid songs. “Coast to Coast” was a highlight as well as the string filled closer “Wish I Had The Sense.”
Walls isn’t perfect and I have a feeling Hatton’s best work is still ahead of him but this should be more than enough inspiration for him to keep trying to untangle his own potential. For Hatton some of his innate talent was obviously tapped between albums but the question remains is there still more there. It’s a question all artists face but only those who continue to persevere with due diligence will have answered.
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