Album review: Hannah Wicklund – The Prize

Fast-rising American singer Hannah Wicklund develops her art into a psych-rock trip, with a bit of help from Greta Van Fleet…

Album review: Hannah Wicklund – The Prize
Steve Beebee

From the moment she rocked out to a tune called Bomb Through The Breeze back in 2017, Hannah Wicklund always looked like a special talent. Why it’s taken that aptitude this long to mature is something of a mystery. Initially retro-rocking her way across North American stages with Hannah Wicklund And The Steppin’ Stones, she’s now reevaluated what matters most to her, and her music has consequently become more personal, and also much more imaginative.

She has Greta Van Fleet to thank for the latter, at least to an extent. Since touring with the boundary-crushing rock revivalists on the Canadian leg of their 2022 Dreams In Gold jaunt, Hannah’s friendship with multi-talented bassist Sam Kiszka has resulted in him producing and playing on this solo record, along with GVF drummer Danny Wagner. It takes nothing away from Hannah to say that the duo have had a significant impact.

These songs, especially opener Hell In The Hallway, the turbulent Dark Passenger and the gorgeously melodic and strung out Can’t Get Enough, come from a different and more dangerously creative heart. It isn’t a place she has dealt from before. It must also be said that much here is overly meditative, particularly a lengthy three-song section at the album’s heart, and that’s going to be too big a haul for those seeking quick rock fixes. While there’s nothing wrong with Song Bird Sing and the lugubrious The Prize, it’s easy to sense how personal and specific this music is to its creator who maybe could have built better bridges to it for her audience.

It ends, however, on a high – while closer Sun To Sun again keeps the listener on their toes, guessing where in the universe it might go next, it concludes with a devastating guitar solo, further proof that hers is a talent worth tracking.

Verdict: 3/5

For fans of: Rival Sons, Greta Van Fleet, The Doors

The Prize is out now via Flatiron/Strawberry Moon

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