In May, Darren Hanlon will play the authentic Juke Joints of Portland, Austin and Chicago (some sold out) to resume his Where did I come from album release and tour. Like many urban folk musicians he has found a niche within certain musical pockets around Australia and the US. But where did this album come from? Citing Darren Hanlon’s website, it was recorded during an adventure in “the American south… with an array of musicians met along the way.” The song Chattanooga Shoot Shoot captures this time relying on “the charity of strangers and safe transportation.” We hear bluesmen, a Morcheeba styled female vocal interlude and the sounds of a busker playing percussive beats with just drum sticks.
Standout songs on this 13-track album are Salvation Army – the tempo references a march but it’s about where his clothes are purchased, to When you go, a lingering instrumental introduction before Hanlon reminisces with “upon the floor some torn up t-shirts lay/that I don’t have the heart to throw away/you always take the madness when you go.” This song has that Sarah Blasko hauntingness, the ratatatat of the snare drum fired sporadically throughout, and Hanlon’s rhythmic guitar galloping in the distance.
The most vivid journey song is Letter from an Australian Mining Town. The lyrics “if it wasn’t for the blinding sun I might enjoy the view/ I’m trying to pick the ripest words to use to describe you.” Hanlon’s lyrics are full of clever and cosy references to Australian signifiers. This song is 7.51 minutes long, has a whining echo of country slide guitar, a piano accompaniment and the lyric “the night time travels over me with all the stars on-board.” You should listen.
Artists like Darren Hanlon allow those who follow the daily grind to visit his nomadic life – finding couches and opportunities around every bend. Only one or two instrumental elements ever accompany Hanlon’s lyrics – never crowding the room. This allows us to hear, view, and absorb every word and worldly reference.