! = recommended
* = all-ages
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Lullaby for an Astronaut features 16 tracks of some of the most diverse material I’ve ever heard pour out of one human being. Kelli Hanson may be the first to point out that she is primarily influenced by Kate Bush and PJ Harvey, but there is certainly a lot more going on here than that.
Kelli, a recent transplant to Seattle from San Jose, is an artistic chameleon who serves us up a three course fusion-gourmet meal on Lullaby for an Astronaut. Starting us off with tasty space folk and French pop, she then introduces an acoustic roots and Brit rock-inspired entrée, finishing it off with layered Moroccan oud, dreamy feedback, and rich vocal swoons.
This is not to say Lullaby for an Astronaut lacks in consistency, however. The stunningly tight production team of Kelli Hanson, Andy Zenczak and Mark Quinn manages to keep this aural collage held together. Making a record with such wide a palette is a risky move that could easily fall flat on its face, but what was turned out on this debut solo is really quite satisfying. Released on her own label, some of the material on this record is so strong in fact, that it baffles me she doesn’t have a mob of record labels beating her door down.
Let’s face it - we are creatures of habit and small comforts, which is why we often overlook or ignore new artists until they are nearly force-fed to us. I’m really no different than you in this regard. I too spend most of my time at local record shops thumbing through the used section, looking for something vaguely familiar and passing over anything that isn’t. I too skim through magazines and websites, only devoting my finite attention to bands that I either already know, or which have really interesting record covers (which is what initially grabbed my attention in this case — I guess I’ve always been a sucker for Technicolor photographs of 50s tract homes and vintage RVs, complete with smoggy skies, film imperfections, and sun spots).
We are quick to form assumptions, and to resist anything new. To be honest, if I only saw Kelli Hanson’s name on a list, I’d likely overlook it, assuming her to be one in a thousand other lipstick-folk rock grrrls, and I wouldn’t have been more wrong. If I could convince you to take a risk on an unknown artist this summer, I’d confidently recommend picking up this gem.