Some albums grab you from the first notes, shaking you out of your world and demanding to be heard. You know it’s something special and you’re captivated from start to finish. Others sneak up on you, getting underneath your skin gradually until you realise that this album is far better than you ever imagined. Where Did You Come From?, the fifth studio album from Darren Hanlon, is that kind of album.
I initially thought it was just a sweet blend of country and folk. It was pleasant enough to listen to, but also likely to get buried amongst my massive pile of music before too long. And then I heard “Letter from an Australian Mining Town.” The fifth track, a tender slice of Australiana with all of the romance of the bush. Even if you haven’t been there you understand it. And that was when I thought “I get this. This is amazing. I need to go back to the other tracks and pay more attention.”
With my ears wide open I realised that while Darren’s music is fairly small, it shouldn’t be overlooked. Perhaps no song emphasises this point more than “My Love is an Ocean Away.” With only an acoustic guitar, Darren’s voice, and some quirky but poetic lyrics, it draws you in and proves how powerful something delicate can be. As someone who lived through a long-distance relationship, it struck a real chord.
So did “Halley’s Comet, 1986.” As he told the story I recalled my own experiences as a six-year-old, not really sure why we were all looking up at the stars and what we were waiting for, but doing it anyway.
Then there’s “Manhole Cover Tap,” which proves that anything can be a musical instrument. I’m not 100 percent sure whether real manholes were involved in the recording of this track, but I love its organic, back to basics feel. And I’m sure that Johnny Cash would have been proud to pen the rollicking country-rock of “The Chattanooga Shoot Shoot.”
Darren’s spent a lot of time in the United States, but he certainly hasn’t forgotten where he came from. Australian stories are at the heart of every one of these songs, and he sings them in a real Australian voice rather than that generic accent-free one so many performers use. It’s so refreshing to hear. As the first few tracks washed over me I didn’t expect to become so invested in Where Did You Come From? But I’ve found myself going back to it and giving it another spin for a couple of weeks now. It creeps up on you, and when it does it’s so rewarding.
Where Did You Come From? hits stores on March 2. Darren will celebrate the release of Where Did You Come From? with the following shows.
27 February – 1 March 2015 – Nannup Festival, Nannup
2 March 2015 – Mojos Bar, Fremantle
5 March 2015 – Republic Bar, Hobart
6-8 March 2015 – Panama Festival, Panama Forest
12 March 2015 – Railway Club, Darwin
20-22 March 2015 – Yackandandah Folk Festival, Yackandandah
24 March 2015 – Clarendon Guest House, Katoomba
25 March 2015 – Gallipoli Legions Club, Newcastle
26 March 2015 – Manning Bar, Sydney
27 March 2015 – Street Theatre, Canberra
28 March 2015 – Candelo Festival, Candelo
2 April 2015 – Jive Bar, Adelaide
3 April 2015 – Karova Lounge, Ballarat
9 April 2015 – The Spotted Cow, Toowoomba
10 April 2015 – The Zoo, Brisbane
11 April 2015 – Majestic Theatre, Pomona
17 April 2015 – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Image used with permission from Mucho Bravado