Singer-songwriter Hannah Aldridge will release her debut album, "Razor Wire," on Tuesday (May 13). While she has had experience writing and performing before, putting it all together on a record of her own was quite an experience, as she tells The 615.
"It was my first experience putting together a whole record. I've done a lot of writing for film and TV and things like that, but this was my first time trying to make a cohesive project. It became really interesting because I got to a point where I had about ten songs, and I decided I needed to write some specific types of songs because I didn't have any of those yet. It was kind of like mixing colors together for a painting," she alluded to Billboard. "You also have to find the right players, which can be interesting. I think I lucked out. I picked the right players and studio, and Chris Mara, my producer, picked the right songs."
Listening to Aldridge's music is a sonic treat, as stylistically she paints from many different musical brushes. There's elements of country, pop, blues, Americana, and rock and roll swagger throughout the disc. How would she describe it?
"I would describe it as the Muscle Shoals sound," she said, referencing the area where she grew up, "which is a bit of a throwback country sound to it. It has a broad range of what it can be, but it reminds me of some of my dad's old demos from the 80s and 90s," she said of her father, singer-songwriter Walt Aldridge – also a one-time member of the band The Shooters.
"Some of the songwriters down there were as influential for me as some of the old recordings that were done down there. If you go and listen to some of the singer songwriter demos they cut at Fame, that's the basis of where I started this record. ‘Lie Like You Love Me' is a great example of that Muscle Shoals sound, yet also very country, which is my experience with the music there. I used that as a starting place, and wanted the whole record to be true to that. People could say ‘it sounds like country music, and it sounds like Bonnie Raitt, but it's got a little more edge. That's where I started to put in my own experience, and way of talking. I would describe it as a Muscle Shoals sounding record, but also throw in an older generation of country like Johnny Cash or Rosanne Cash."
One song of Razor Sharp that Aldridge feels was an important one for her as an artist is the brilliantly-written "You Ain't Worth The Fight."
"That was actually a turning point on this record for my writing," she says. "I wrote about forty or fifty songs for this record. It was a little more groovier than what I had written before. When Matthew Craig Johnson and I wrote the song, that started the beginning of the whole record. That led me down the path of writing the rest of the songs. I wanted to make sure there was some angst on this record, but at the same time, I wanted to make sure that it wasn't something people wanted to turn off the CD after the third song and say ‘I get it. You're depressed. You're miserable.' I wanted people to be able to tap their toe to it, and relate to it on a level that they don't need to pull out a razor blade as soon as they start listening to the record," she admitted with a laugh. "I think that proved that you can write an angst-filled song, but it doesn't have to be in waltz time or super slow. It can be something that people can dance to."
Aldridge says that each of the songs on the album are very personal to her. After all, she's lived them. "Everything I've wrote about on the record are things that I've experienced. I tend to write some stuff that even men are afraid to say – things that are going to challenge people's thoughts about what is appropriate for a woman to say. If you take a record like ‘Howlin' Bones' or ‘Lonesome,' if a guy was singing those, I don't think people would think twice. If you're a young woman coming out and saying things that are ballsy, I think it changes people's perspective on the songs. So, when I wrote each song, I thought ‘Is there a way I can say that even more honestly?"
Aldridge is currently booking dates for the summer and fall, with plans for a UK run later this year.