Music Review: Hannah Read – “Way Out I’ll Wander”


06 April 2018 | James Porteous| Hawkins Bay Dispatch

Listening to Hannah Read, one has the feeling it all begins with a line, a sentence, a word.

In time, if that line, sentence or thought is deemed worthy of  greater artistic merit, it just might take on a life of its own as a song.

We know this because  her latest album, “Way Out I’ll Wander” is filled to overflowing with such lines, sentences and thoughts.

The title song for example:

It’s snowing, losing myself as the wind goes circling ’round
Dancing in clean air, fast and pointed freely
Holding my breath, grasp the window between thee

Way out I’ll wander beyond the fallen trees
Past the weathered tophouse and bow down on my knees
Kiss the ground crying, nose deep in snow
Buried deep in the soil below

He carved his travels of Amsterdam and Rome
We relive his memories hung high on walls at home
Lost him in the winter, the last day of the year

Way out I’ll wander beyond the fallen trees
Pass the weathered tophouse and bow down on my knees
Kiss the ground crying, nose deep in the snow
Buried deep in the soil below 

And again, in Alexander:

Nicotine and wispy hair
A life of turmoil brought him there
Sitting still with cup in hand
Dreaming of a distant land

Staring blankly at the wall
He lost the patience for it all
Saved two lives from war and pain
Taught them how to love again


In a city ripped in half
The bombers clouds wouldn’t pass
His heavy heart and troubled mind
Alex he was left behind

Who am I to think I know
I have no children of my own
We’ll make it up as we go
Alex you are not alone

Read sings these words with a confidence that is surely borne at least in part by her upbringing in Scotland.

Much is made of this (it is the opening refrain in most reviews) and although she now resides in New York, and her compositions are most-assuredly  ‘contemporary,’ there remains an obvious connection in both word and song that taps into that lovely, barren homeland.

Her bio notes that she “spent her youth playing fiddle and singing in the rich traditional music scenes of Edinburgh and on the Isle of Eigg, a remote Island off the west coast of Scotland.”

Again, that in part explains the confidence of the singing, writing and playing.

It is not that the listener might expect anything less. It is just that one cannot help but be impressed and almost overwhelmed by its presence.

It is like discovering Joni Mitchel on album four and wondering how she became so good, so fast.

And how did Hannah Read become so good, so fast?

Trust me. You will find the details written in the songs.


Processed with VSCO with kp2 preset



Hannah Read 
vocals, fiddle, acoustic and electric guitars

Jefferson Hamer 
backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitars

Jeff Picker 
upright bass

Sarah Jarosz 
backing vocals

Alec Spiegalman 

Mike Harlen 
lapsteel guitar

Ben Flocks 

Christian Li 
piano, harmonium

Charlie Van Kirk 
ebowed guitar

Charlie Van Kirk 
Engineered & Mixed

Charlie Van Kirk and Hannah Read 

Robin Beatty 
Graphic Design

Kelly Teacher 










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