Review: Natalie Salvo
Darren Hanlon, the musical raconteur from Gympie is back with his fourth studio album, “I Will Love You At All”. For this record, this citizen of the world wrote his songs in many exciting locations from Paris to Coonabarabran (it’s in NSW people, look it up!)
At it’s essence we’re taken on a journey with a wistful and heartfelt traveler via ten songs full of gentle longing, aching reminiscence and nostalgia. Produced by Adam Selzer (M Ward, She & Him, The Decemberists), it features musical assistance from Rachel Blumberg (Bright Eyes, M Ward, She & Him, The Decemberists); longtime collaborator, Cory Gray on keys; and the velvety, feminine vocals of Shelley Short and Alia Farah.
On Hanlon’s self-proclaimed “mature” record, we seem him again showcase his trademark, homely crafts with great skill and virtuosity. The talented wordsmith is at it again with his lyrical interplay and word games, but this time around things are a tad subtler. He still spins yarns, turning what could be the minutiae of one’s day into if not a revelation that at the very least an amusing aside you’ll want to save up for the next time you want to impress. But there’s no denying that he has toned down his cheeky side. Gone are the really strange pieces of subject matter for the more subdued folk, with perhaps even Hanlon himself realising that he’s getting a little old to be singing love songs about squash, people waving at trains and the like.
From the opening notes of “Butterfly Bones” the listener will recognise a pop ditty at play. They may also note its slight, understated approach. Elsewhere there is “Scenes From A Separation” to keep everyone occupied because this is like a quiet and romantic sea shanty propelled by its excellent, feminine vocals.
“All These Things” will leave you wishing you were a bowerbird but instead of collecting shiny objects you’ll be gathering memories. The amazing lyrical couplets including books waiting to be read; pets forgotten to be fed; and godparents you’ve never met, to name but a few; are perhaps similar to glistening moonbeams. In fact, in somebody else’s hands such disparate objects could make for a rather disjointed song. But Mr. Hanlon instead fashions them into a cohesive item of beauty with plenty of spirit. Boasting a quaint honesty that shines through, it has just the right mix of nostalgia and elements from everyday life and is perhaps a description best left to sum up the album as a whole.
“Folk Insomnia” is a little acoustic number which is one-part lessons-learned with just the slightest hint of regret because Hanlon won’t be around to see some of the things he’s helped create. Never mind though, because “Home” borrows a few things from The Beatles’ “If I Fell” and lifts the mood, paving the way for “Buy Me Presents”. The latter has catchy, hit single stamped all over it and that’s before we mention that it’s a sentiment we’ve probably all felt at some point.
The final track, “What Can We Say” is an epic piano ballad. It sees Hanlon impersonate both Billy Joel and Elton John. It also proves that his musical prowess extends far beyond acoustic guitars and banjos.
“I Will Love You All” is a smart and sweet album by a talented songwriter who has notched up a few more years (and stacks of insight and perspective). Hanlon clearly wants to share his experience and knowledge with all of us. So make a cup of tea and listen closely to the man like you would your grandparents because you won’t regret it.