Philippa Hanna ‘Through The Woods’ Review

Philippa Hanna Through The Woods Album Review

Philippa Hanna is one of the UK’s brightest talents. Having followed her music from pretty much near the start I’ve seen her progress and develop as an artist, get mainstream radio play, support the legendary Lionel Richie and turn her hand to not only writing songs but books too.

1st July 2013 saw the release of Philippa’s new concept album ‘Through The Woods’ a vivid story telling body of work set to a pure and organic soundscape.

As ‘Lighthouse’ (the first song) started, curtains were drawn back and a new world of music was exposed. The dynamics and subtle nuances in the music somehow make the music tangible and Philippa’s voice is as pure and expressive as ever as she sings “Feels like I’m drifting, out in the ocean, just want to make it to the other side… If I am the vessel, my heart is the anchor that keeps me ebbing with the tide.”

The progression on ‘Stars Will Fall’ is fiery and intense and gives a campfire feeling with eruptions on the choruses and a real rootsy, barnyard vibe and reminded me (at times) of Blondie’s hit ‘Call Me’.

‘Apples’ is one of my favourite songs on ‘Through the Woods’. The story unfolds verse by verse and has many levels. “Bitten” “discarded” “bruised” and “undesired” are all feelings I can relate to but the joy in the song comes in hearing the words “My heart was healed healed when I knocked at His door…”

‘Cherry Coloured Coat’ is a powerful metaphor for the blood of Jesus and how He can still see us/find us in our darkest times and that there’s no need to fear when we wear our ‘Cherry Coloured Coat’. “He always sees my heart like glitter in the dark He covers me in glory, So I won’t fear the noises in the night, I’m walking in His sight…”

I love the thought of ‘Hollywood,’ which speaks of reality and (to put it like The City Harmonic) having that “something real in a world of fake…” This has a Southern Gospel/Country feel to it with a comforting warmth as Philippa sings, “No need for pretending, show me who you are, don’t have too play a part…”

The muted, edgy guitars and Phillipa’s “ooooh’s” (on the introduction) set the tone for ‘Fire,’ an edgy, soulful song rich with harmonies that flicker like sparks on an open fire. This song has a drive and passion and the instrumentation really matched up with doubt and being torn but even more so the “fire that burns for you…”

‘New For Old’ is a beautiful piano ballad that is so spacious and yet consuming and for me is a beautiful portrayal of God’s love for us and how He seeks us out and restores us to true beauty, how he heals us and how He places such a great value on us even when we’re in our worst state… “There is nothing that’s beyond repair, there is no-one too far gone, can’t your eyes see what can be done, with a little love…”

‘Sweet Surrender’ has a contemporary Pop/Rock feel without losing the organic sound that has been the foundation for the album. Surrender isn’t normally sweet but in this song the type of surrender is what makes it “sweet”. Surrender normally means giving up but in this song Philippa shows us a type of surrender that makes us victorious… “My back is raised now the war is won, put my armour aside I can feel the sun, for the first time, in my life…” There’s a feeling of letting go, freedom and the ecstasy of ‘Sweet Surrender’.

‘Through The Woods’ is one of the best albums I’ve heard in a while… It ticks so many boxes from production and songwriting to its overall musicality and depth. ‘Through The Woods’ is a well crafted album that is pure and organic seeing Philippa open up and share her own experiences but doing it in a way that tells a story and shows a complete picture of the highs, lows, journeys and feelings we experience throughout life.

As ‘Through The Woods’ progressed I felt myself literally walking through the woods of life, hearing the “dogs of jealousy, running after me” and the “hounds of insecurity (keep) scratching at my door,” at times not being able to “see the wood for the trees” and realizing that no matter how the journey through the woods had impacted me, that “there’s nothing that’s beyond repair…”

Philippa’s voice is at it’s best, sounding like a classic Folk singer at times, a Soul singer at others and angelic at different moments to match the feel, tone and message of each song. The production on this album is first class and so is Philippa’s voice which is unique and flawless and is to the music industry what a hidden gold mine would be to a broke land owner…

This album metaphorical for me and full of analogies of my Christian walk with God and it spoke to me on a personal level. The lyrics are so well put together that you can enjoy them based on their merit or on the various meanings they can have on the listener depending on where they are in their journey ‘Through The Woods’.

Track List:

  • Lighthouse
  • Stars Will Fall
  • Daffodil Song
  • Apples
  • Cherry Coloured Coat
  • Sharks
  • Hollywood
  • Fire
  • It’s Just A Song
  • New For Old
  • Sweet Surrender

5/5

Reviewed By Matt Brooks

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