(4 / 5)
He’s back. Dave Hanson, Leeds-based guitar master and singer-songwriter, formerly the lead axe man for alt. folksters The Dunwells. Dave spent five years touring the USA with Mumford and Sons and Sheryl Crow, as well as performing on the USA’s Tonight Show.
But eventually, he pined for warm beer, shit service and rip off petrol prices on home soil, and he was gagging to make his own music and stand on his own two musical plates of meat. So he quit The Dunwells, moved back to the UK and placed his total focus on a solo career, and a spot of session work to keep the wolves from the door.
His debut album “Almost Horizontal” produced by Tim Palmer (U2, Pearl Jam, Bowie) was a cracking job, released back in June last year, and showcased his distinctive vocals, accomplished guitar skills and strong song writing talents. Laid back and bluesy, groove-soaked and a very accomplished result.
He gives birth to the follow up, circa nine months later (see what I did there?) with his new five track live EP. Revisiting four original songs from his album: “Joanna”, “Midday Sun,” “Blind Faith” and the closer “Island Sky”, plus the cover of Santana’s “Evil Ways”, a staple of his live set but not on the album. Here, all with a more raw and spontaneous sound perhaps. Excellent audio quality for a live recording.
The band are cooking on gas. Dave’s guitar licks are inventive, lush in tone and nod heavily towards the likes of Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, JJ Cale, George Harrison and Peter Green. But he is his own man at the same time.
His material is a tight fit as a vehicle for his voice and gifted guitar playing, and he has a formidable back-up team around him chucking out buckets of chemistry, in the shape of his permanent band: Becka Ward on (superb) backing vocals, Steve Hanley on drums and Sam Quintana nailing the rhythm, Matt Baxter moving things along nicely on second guitar and Martin Longhawn playing a blinder on organ and keys. Paddy Wells delivers some fine blues gob iron (aka harmonica) on the opener, the infectious “Joanna”. From this lot, only Becka and Paddy appeared on the album.
Listen closely, and you’ll hear Dave’s guitar prowess on the left-hand speaker and his pal Matt’s guitar on the right channel, in the mix. Nicely done. DH is playing the hell out of his 1979 Les Paul Gold Top which he’s owned for a decade, and has been all over the USA with him. This time plugged into his treasured, vintage 1978 Hi Watt valve amp; all 50 watts comin’ at ya……a piece of kit he’s been asked a trillion times to sell in the 15 years since he bought it, but he’s not interested. Don’t blame him, sounds lovely here. The same brand of amp Pete Townshend used on the famed “Live At Leeds”, don’t you know?
Interesting fact about Dave’s Les Paul guitar though; it was the very first guitar he saw played live as a kid, when a local chap around Leeds played Free covers on it, and Dave sat in awe and dreaming of one day being up there playing guitar. Years later, out of the blue, Dave gets a call to ask him if he wants to buy this very same guitar he had drooled over as a youngster. I think the guy had a sale at “hello, Dave speaking.”
The EP was recorded late last year in the UK, while Mr H was finishing up a lengthy tour to promote his debut album, which included a live TV appearance on The Andrew Marr show and an appearance at the prestigious Cornbury Festival, sharing the bill with the likes of Seal, Bryan Ferry, Booker T Jones and his old mates, The Dunwells.
In my review of his debut album last year, I wrote: “A very fine guitarist, probably one of the best we’ve got….” These five live cuts more than prove that my statement back then was, (and is), 100% factually accurate.
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’