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Hannah Connolly - Shadowboxing (self-released)

20 February 2024

If her debut album, From Where You Are, draws heavily on a tragic, personal loss for its sense and sentiment, Shadowboxing sees Hannah Connolly exploring the process of healing and moving on with life. Of course, memory and heartache still hang over the music in places, just as the echo of such experiences will be found in everything you subsequently do. But here, she explores the profound effect of living through such events, how they change us, often for the better, and who the person emerging from the other side of the grieving process is.

“Reno,” the single which opens up the album, will already be familiar to some; a folk-infused, pop-aware ballad that deals with the missteps and tension that occur in the early stages of a romantic relationship. “Stuck in Place,” which follows then flips those worries and reminds us to live in the moment and take things as they come, and does so in a more upbeat and infectious style, blending country licks and rock energy into a poised pop package.

And those two openers give us a taste of what’s to follow. Although they are only a small taste, especially regarding the overall musical styles found on Shadowboxing, they at least show Connolly as someone who has mastered the art of exploring the human heart and life experiences in an intimate and open yet wonderfully relatable way.

“Golden” runs on a lovely, spacious shuffle groove, “Party is Over” is a shimmering, understated, country-soul ballad, and the title song is a gently anthemic slice of gorgeousness. And then, proving that she can bare her soul via a hard rocking groove as easily as she does through more deft and delicate songs, “Tired of Trying” adds further sonic dimensions to her musical array.

What a great album. One that covers plenty of sonic ground and hops musical styles with ease but still sounds like no one other than Hannah Connolly, and that, of course, is the art of album-making in the post-genre age.

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