Episode 123: Hannah Aldridge
Air date: 10.29.2014
Hannah Aldridge is steeped in what Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood calls “The Southern Thing” - a phrase that tries to summarize the living, breathing duality of the rich and troubled history of the American South. Aldridge is based in Nashville these days, but she spent her formative years in the fertile musical turf near Muscle Shoals, Alabama - about 125 miles south of her current home. Muscle Shoals is a small, backwoods southern river town that happens to have long been a legendary destination for world-class musicians. Something in the muddy water seeps into the souls of the people who live and record in Muscle Shoals - and that inexplicable magic winds up in the records cut there. Aldridge’s apple didn’t fall far from the talent tree - her father is noted songwriter and musician Walt Aldridge - but the younger Aldridge has more than enough keen observations in her gritty songs and confidence in her sweet and rural voice to earn her her own hard-won stripes. She writes from the perspective of a strong woman in a setting where the men talk big, but seldom do the honorable, righteous or even logical thing. Hannah Aldridge flatly inhabits the characters in her songs - a woman peculiarly tranquil about her dwindling days on death row, the daughter of a vengeful preacher who will not abide her abuse, the mother of a young son with a box of special rocks under his bed - and gives them all a voice that sounds alive and real. And it is this songwriting authenticity that raises her above the throng of Americana singer-songwriters of either gender. She has a new album called Razor Wire and is already working on songs for a follow-up release.