Darren Hanlon has become somewhat of a staple in the Melbourne scene, with his Christmas shows becoming an annual tradition in the world of city food trucks and week-long art exhibitions. But for the longest of times, fans of the folk singer have been in a bit of a musical drought in regards to new material, with 2010 seeing the release of his last album I Will Love You At All. After weeks of clouds building, rain has finally fallen in the form of a new album, dubbed Where Did You Come From? Is this the downpour that turns the desert into a field? Or is it just another summer shower?

A large part of Hanlon’s music is his humour, a kind of country version of the dad joke. If you needed any proof of this, simply consider one of his more popular songs: ‘There’s Not Enough Songs About Squash’. But in Where Did You Come From? there is a lot less of a focus on humour with songs like ‘Letter from an Australian Mining Town’ and ‘My Love is an Ocean Away’ sticking firmly in the meaningful department, but that doesn’t mean humour is non-existent. ‘The Chattanooga Shoot Shoot’ tells of how Hanlon, travelling to Nashville via bus, ended up narrowly avoiding being shot in one of the US’s trademarked shoot outs. Sounding like a mix between Courtney Barnett and Johnny Cash, Hanlon half-talks the situation like someone who is still attempting to process the sheer ridiculousness of the event that isn’t even considered newsworthy the day later, as double bass and jangly country guitars sound in the background. This is by far the song that sticks out on an album mostly filled with love songs, and does so in a way that shows that Hanlon’s song writing skills on topics like the weird and wacky haven’t diminished – even if he’s trying out his serious face for now.

Despite the long-time break, Hanlon’s comeback hasn’t seen much change. Songs may be slower than the last album, but they stick to the same folksy Australian themes that cover his discography. While the songs may now be serious, they remain like the previous serious tracks he has crafted: they’re filled with a sense of longing, wholly Australian metaphors, and they tend to be quiet, stripped down little ditties. Where Did You Come From? comes off more as an announcement that Hanlon is dipping his toes into the pool of new music before he cannonballs into the pool.

6/10

 

Where Did You Come From? will be released on March 24th through Yep Roc Records.