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Now that Homegrown is over it is time to keep on with the pile of CDs on my desk. The Christopher David Hanson Band played at the Iron Range pre-Homegrown Show, but wasn’t officially on the roster for the week. I won’t be surprised at all if they get a good slot next year for Homegrown because this band is the real deal. There’s a lot of ways to describe music, and in this case I’m going to call this band professional. Sure, I like a good punk show or some experimental electronic music, and while there’s a lot of bands that fall in those categories, let’s just face it, many of these bands will be lucky to walk out the door with $20 per member and a few beers. This is the type of band where they could actually ask for a guarantee from a venue and back it up with a tight performance that most will either really like or at least find tolerable.
The Christopher David Hanson band delivers a very listenable approach with their latest album, “For Another Year.” There’s a mix of rock, country, soul and funk that is easy to get into. Going back to the word “professional,” they’d easily be able to play at a city street dance or get people, young and old, dancing at a tavern. I’m sure the band has some covers, but this is album has all original material. In that sense they are a cut above the standard variety-rock bar band. There’s something familiar about it. I want to say that it’s somewhere in the realm of Bob Seger or the Steve Miller Band. I hate making comparisons, but yes, the band has a rock groove that feels of the late 70s and sometimes a little country that pulls from older stuff to the 90s. Either way, they’re doing it well.
First off, Christopher David Hanson’s vocals just nail the feel that they’re going for. There’s a little rasp, but Hanson’s voice stays smooth at the same time. It’s pretty obvious he knows what he’s doing. Looking at the band photo, it seems that there’s probably a few seasoned musicians in the band; guys who might have been playing well before a drum machine became common place in the Twin Ports. The line up includes Hanson (guitar/vocals), Karl Anderson (guitar/vocals), Brent Saari (organ/piano/vocals), Craig LaSart (bass), Willy Larson (baritone sax), and Shawn Sampson (drums). The band started in 2013 and Hanson is the youngest member. While the group really holds down their music, the addition of the keys and sax really fills out the sound of the band.
The album starts off with the track, “For Another Year,” and the ears are met with a fun and laid back tune that brings in a little bit of blues, soul and rock. There’s plenty of energy with the band and the sound is something that most can get behind. It’s catchy, it’s well done and it just flows. The band sometimes falls into a standard classic rock feel where the lyrics get a little repetitious at times, but considering the nature of the music, that’s to be expected. The song “Owls in the Sunshine” is a good example. There’s some repetition with the lyrics, the expected verse/chorus pops up, but the full choral backing vocals just drives it home. Overall, there are a lot of things going on to make the listening experience something special, but I do listen to the albums I review around ten times, it’s something that I noticed.
The cool thing about this band is the transition between genres. The song, “Cold Black Cat,” has a pretty funky vibe to it. The bass lines and sax really hold the song down. The filter effects on the guitar make the song everything it should be. Songs like, “Sleep in Heaven Play Guitar,” takes on a more traditional country feel. A song about closing down the bar with slick piano parts really can’t go wrong. Overall, The Christopher David Hanson Band has a bit of variety. They go from funk, to rock, to country and dabble into some other territory, but it’s always controlled and something that’s easily accessible.
They have some strong points. First, I’d say the musicianship is excellent. Hanson’s vocals really fit the sound and the songs are mostly fun. This is professional music that you might expect from Nashville, so while the songs are solid, there’s nothing especially deep to the music and that’s alright. If everything was an emotional and introspective digging, that’d get a little tiresome. Yes, there are a few drinking songs, but they refrained from taking it too overboard with constant references to drinking whiskey and watching the sun come up or other worn out lines that seem to continuously pop up. They have found their niche. The band as a whole works out great but the keys in particular are down right amazing at times.
I liked to see a familiar name on the recording of this album. It was engineered by Rich Mattson at Sparta Sound, a well frequented studio in the Minnesota north woods. From the sounds of it, the band is very well rehearsed and they might have spent a little more time than just a couple days on the album. They probably had a pretty good idea of what they were going to do when they got to work.
From the looks of it The Christopher David Hanson Band sticks mostly up in the Northern Minnesota area. From their current schedule it looks like they’ll be playing up there through the summer. Visit christopherdavidhanson.com to see their schedule and find out more information.