Monday 29 July 2019

Hannah Cohen - This is Your Life

“This is your life / Don’t let it just happen to you”. That is how Hannah Cohen opens her album Welcome Home, pleading with us, delivering a straightforward lesson. The word “life” sweetly stretched out, allowed to linger in the air.

This album was written during a time of transition, as Cohen was taking the radical decision to leave the bustle of New York City for the rustic environs of Woodstock, NY.  The album – Cohen’s 3rd – was released in April (I’m a little behind the curve). At the time of release, she described the process of writing the first single and opening track, “This is Your Life”:

It was the beginning of September and NYC was in the midst of a big heat wave. I was staying with my partner at the time and had locked myself in the bathroom to work on this song. It was very early in the morning, the air conditioner was buzzing away. At the time we were searching for our first apartment together, and had seen about 27 apartments in person. All were gross or out of our price range. It was definitely a catalyst for wanting to move out of the city – and it all came rushing at me. I really needed a change. Locked in a boiling hot bathroom, playing my nylon-string guitar, I realized that this is it… my life is crazy, it’s time to make a big move.”

Out of this revelation came an album that is marked by honesty and almost pastoral clarity. You get the sense that Cohen has arrived at some important lessons and is distilling them here, both for herself and for us. They perhaps sound simple, but as Cohen knows – hell, as we all know - they take a while to grasp and identify with. Through the dreamy pop production, well-executed by her partner Sam Owens, you can still make out the charming tones of the old nylon-stringed guitar she used to compose many of the songs. This is an album that will cause you to feel warm and hopeful, even as it causes you to examine your own path.

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