Hannah Cohen – Welcome Home – (alternative)
Hannah Cohen’s return home isn’t quite as “welcome” as her third studio album’s title suggests. After spending over a decade in New York City, the worn out musician began grasping for a reason to leave–and it suddenly hit her one day while writing in the stuffed bathroom of her apartment during a heat wave. She ditched crowded subway stations for miles of empty fields in Woodstock, to rediscover her passion for music and find peace with her demons. Out of this came Welcome Home, a “Carole King meets Tame Impala” masterpiece about slowly outgrowing the robotic daily routines of urban living.
Cohen brilliantly captures the odd essence of isolation through dreamy indie-rock guitar riffs and light synth bells that chime in every so often, like ghosts visiting from the past. She effortlessly brings us into her world of vivid memories through words like “wanna be the sun on your back” and “the water in the ocean all turns to salt on your skin”. Cohen’s soft yet ever-expressive voice carries the record’s core emotions, and contributes a special element. You can hear her vulnerability as she purposefully lingers around the highest point of her range in “What’s This All About”, an aching piano ballad about feeling lost in purpose. Even as her voice fades into the background at times, she makes a statement without feeling the need to steal the spotlight. Her conversational lyrics are comforting, and echo the words of an old friend who’s consoling you through the uneasiness that comes with change.
As melancholy as the album gets, Cohen knows where she stands in the thick of it all. The album’s opener “This Is Your Life” is a reassuring pep talk with a title that says it all–if you don’t like your life you have the power to change it. The following songs dive into darker subjects, but she circles back to this self confidence in “Wasting My Time”. Although both songs are found in unexpected places, it mimics the rare beauty of finding hope in our daily lives during difficult times.
It’s hard to say by the end of the album if Hannah Cohen reaches a conclusion on her journey “home”, but this open-endedness makes her message all the more real.
Hannah Cohen plays live with Shura this Tuesday night, October 22 at Brighton Music Hall. The show starts at 8:30 PM and you can stream it here.