A child of Muscle Shoals (daddy is Walt Aldridge, one of the many talents to have worked out of the famed Alabama studios) Hannah Aldridge hit the ground running with her debut album Razor Wire back in 2014. While that album was a balls to the wall rock record Gold Rush is a slightly more varied adventure. Sure there’s the FM rock radio friendly Aftermath which opens the album with Aldridge challenging Jagger in the “born in a crossfire” stakes while the following Dark Hearted Woman comes across like Led Zeppelin covering an old Imelda May song, the listener bludgeoned into submission. No complaint here by the way as Aldridge strides these songs with authority, her voice blazing away, fiery and sultry. The remainder of the album however is where she really struts her stuff, her Southern roots on show, still fiery but the songs tempered, still rocking but not overwhelming and even at times coming across as tender and almost vulnerable. The mainstay lyrically throughout the album is Aldridge facing down demons from her past be it drug abuse, failed romance and the deep dark South.
Shouldn’t Hurt So Bad is a jangled guitar rocker that is up there with Mr. Petty while No Heart Left Behind is stuffed with lyrics that recall Patti Smith while the pummelling guitars and anthemic chorus are reminiscent of Springsteen with the song given a very fine outro as guitars fizz and burn amidst Aldridge’s wails and a powerful drum beat. I Know Too Much sizzles with some wicked slide guitar as Aldridge beats herself up singing, “It’s a dangerous place for a girl like me sifting through the ash and dust” as she contemplates a return to home. Home being Alabama and it’s here she sets one of the album highlights, Burning Down Birmingham, which roars with a vengeance somewhat like The Drive By Truckers, the South’s fables and dangers damned indeed. Living On Lonely, its shards of guitar and grandiloquent piano recalling classic Muscle Shoals sessions, is a stark portrait of being strung out as Aldridge attempts to exorcise her past.
The delicate acoustic finger picking on The Irony Of Love portends a shift in Aldridge’s campaign as she solemnly intones the opening lines of the song, again trying to make some sense of her past but here the band are muted and she is surrounded by a chorus of sympathetic voices. Lace is a chilling trip through a horrific tunnel of love as Aldridge dwells on bad decisions and abasement and rails mightily against them. It’s a rollercoaster of a song with plenty of sturm and drang fitting to be held in the same regard as some of Nick Cave’s efforts. Finally there’s the title song which again has Aldridge considering her decision to return home but its couched in acoustic guitar and swaddled slide guitar effects posting her as a songstress in the classic Americana sense, like Linda Ronstadt covering Little Feat.
Hannah Aldridge is currently touring the UK. All dates here with shows in Scotland including Southern Fried Perth.