Kelli Hanson released her second album, Our Buildings, on her label Bigger than the Barn Records earlier this fall. I had never heard of Kelli before picking up this album for a review, but I can see why people love her music. It blends contemporary indie beats with a darker, more organic (and definitely Northwest) sensibility and is the perfect album for a rainy fall day: a little bit dark, but with strong melodies, and vocals to back them up, held together with ethereal soundscapes that help remind you that things aren’t really so dreary.
Some standout songs are “Chariot,” with its 80s-style keys and vocals. It’s a bit lyrically repetitive, but Hanson overcomes that by layering different sounds to build something more intriguing and elemental. Another favorite is “Lips,” which reminded me a bit of Catherine Wheel or Throwing Muses, both in terms of sound and song construction. The vocal harmonies and spacey effects are fantastic. “Fall in Canandaigua” is a beautiful piano solo that is short and sweet and reminds me of a music box my grandmother used to have. The title track “Our Buildings” is a stellar song as well, with its slow rhythm and easy grandeur. Hanson builds it up like a love story that slowly collapses in on itself (this description defines the whole album quite well, too).
Kelli Hanson’s musical and lyrical abilities are obvious on this record. Our Buildings is a strong album and very likeable. Unfortunately, it reminds me of the soundtrack to a John Cusack movie, and while I love to indulge in such storylines from time to time, I prefer music that pushes the boundaries a little bit further from the mainstream. While the record doesn't inspire me to write lines of gushingly positive prose about it, wouldn't want to keep others from checking Hanson out, as she is a very talented musician.