Darren Hanlon

Where Did You Come From

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Australian troubadour Darren Hanlon had a long, rich musical history by the time fifth album Where Did You Come From? arrived in 2015. Starting out as a supportive player in mid-'90s indie pop acts like the Lucksmiths and the Dearhunters, Hanlon stepped out solo around the start of the 2000s with a charmingly simple indie folk sound, rooted in the twee pop sentiments of his full-band days but presented with a candle-lit intimacy and sparsity. As the years went on, he would develop a sound more informed by the busking tradition than the Sarah Records catalog, turning to more traditional folk structures for his sweetly sung compositions. Where Did You Come From? melds traditionally minded playing with Hanlon's intelligent songwriting, wavering in between different production worlds. On the more minimal folk side are tunes like "My Love Is an Ocean Away," with what sounds like a single room mike picking up fingerpicked strings and a murmuring love lament. Moments later, "Manhole Cover Tap" approaches its title literally, with field recording captures of street percussion sounding very much made by tapping on a manhole cover while Hanlon chants lyrics over the top. Glitzier moments of production come with the honky tonk bounce of hard-luck traveling tune "The Chattanooga Shoot Shoot" and more '70s soft rock singer/songwriter arrangements on songs like the Jackson Browne-reminiscent "Trust Your Feelings" and "Fear of the Civil War," which comes complete with a Clarence Clemons-style sax solo in the middle. Each of the 13 tracks on Where Did You Come From? tells a slightly different story, giving an overall feeling of a messy journal from a long international journey, collecting ticket stubs, handbills, and heart-touching experiences in the strains of Hanlon's gentle and scrappy tunes.

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