About once every two or three years a record comes along that is so captivating, it ends up in residence in your cd player for about one month straight. Finally, after myriad bland new releases this year, many of them tepid and uninspiring, we have been offered up some form of musical redemption, and the saviors responsible for our salvation are three chaps from Oklahoma, brothers in fact, who are simply known by their last name, Hanson. Their new recording is called The Walk, and all I can say is that you better walk, but don’t saunter, and certainly do not run, on over to your local record store to pick up this masterpiece. I have also heard that Walmart has it in stock for those of you who reside in the Midwest.
This record is slick. Period. For their fourth full-length album of highly original material, they have enlisted Danny Kortchmar to produce what was already a fine set of songs. The main instruments on the record are keyboard, guitar and drums. The boys have stuck to their guns here and have not gone off on some self indulgent, experimental wandering into new musical realms. The sound is basic pop, but sometimes it carries with it a certain amount of indie edge. Almost every song on the record could be the single, so keep your ears open for which one makes it onto the radio. The songs are hopeful, more so than about anything you’ve heard on the radio in recent times. “I find hope,” one of them soulfully sings in the track, “Great Divide,” and the listener knows that he feels it. The heavily treated vocals soar above the underlying music like a male Shakira or a female Bruce Springsteen.
The focus of this album, as with most Billboard top tens, is on the chorus of the song. In many of these tracks, the listener is on the edge of their seat, imagining what it must be like to sing along with the massive crowd at one of their charity concerts. The songs have a truly spiritual quality to them. Actually, the album has an uncanny christian rock feel to it without being overtly religious. The glossy production has that genre’s definitive, digital sound and, if that’s not enough, its anthemic “good things rule” choruses force you to put down your woes and belt out just about every tune on the record with the now adult Hanson. You will want to stamp along, clap along and shriek along to these timeless melodies.
This is a feel good record. They may even give New York’s Locksley a run for their money. The boys have grown up to become much more than just a novelty pop group from Tulsa. In the song, “Georgia,” singer Hanson almost screams out the chorus, “Cause I don’t want to let you go.” That is exactly how I feel when this cd is in my car stereo. In addition, there are also some wonderful ballads here. “Watch Over Me,” is one of those rare songs, not too unlike “Stay” by Lisa Loeb, that will actually bring tears to your eyes. “And she says please (x3) WATCH over me…on her knees and she begs and she pleads. Na na na na na na na na na na.” I don’t think that it gets any better than this. The Walk is certain to be in heavy rotation at your local Starbucks this summer. I bet that at least one of its many brilliant tracks makes it onto one of their sampler cds as well. “Go” is another highlight. I can hardly find adequate words to describe the rare beauty that emanates from this song. Just buy this album, or at least download the track from itunes and your life may very well never be the same again.
In this age where the planet is plagued by war, hunger, poverty and reality television, there is a shining light and the source of that light is Hanson. This new album is arguably their best. I think that it even tops their xmas album, Snowed In, from 1997. There is so much optimism in The Walk that you’ll wonder why anyone ever bought or had any interest an album like “Tonight’s the Night.” Actually, if anyone out there can get Neil Young a copy of this recording, I am sure that he will cease to make records whose negative themes are always about impeaching the president, criticizing the government and eating at Great Harvest Bread Company. What this country needs in the year 2007 is a little joy, pure and unadulterated. Optimism is the new apathy.
This album will not be released until May 22, but since we too believe in the power of charity, usounds is willing to send you our advance copy version of The Walk in order to share our love of this incredible release. Email: usounds AT gmail DOT com with your name and address and the first lucky respondent will receive this soon to be critically acclaimed work of genius.