Review: Hannah Cohen – Child Bride

Have you seen the video for Crying Game, the first single release from this album? If not, watch it here now. If so, she’s a bit good, isn’t she? It’s like Radiohead’s No Surprises – less desperate and uncomfortable, definitely prettier, but no less compelling. Filmed in one take, Cohen lies on the floor of a nondescript room looking strikingly beautiful as it fills with water around and, eventually, over her. It’s all in arty black and white, which is fitting given Cohen’s earlier career as model, muse and, more recently, a successful photographer in her own right. Teaching herself guitar and writing her first few songs was just a casual pastime; as late-night parties wound down, she would sit and play some songs for awe-struck crowds. And then she was signed to Bella Union as a singer-songwriter. So far, so unbelievably good at life. This girl has excellent genes.

She probably wouldn’t be too worried if nobody really liked the album because she’s got about six different careers on the go. She’s sort of proved herself as a brilliant specimen and, at only 25, she’s got plenty of time to explore space, become a brain surgeon, win the Turner prize etc. Luckily, the album is lovely. A short collection of quiet, private thoughts about love and lovers, delivered in a relaxed, matter-of-fact way, it doesn’t feel like the first album from a relatively inexperienced musician. This could be because the set of musicians behind her are some of New York’s finest, including Sam Amidon, Rob Moose, Doug Wieselman and Kenny Wollesen, to name a few. But shifting the praise from Cohen to band members still doesn’t account for the songs themselves. They are few but varied, linked but stylistically experimental; the shift from Bon Iver-style electronics-within-folk, to happy clappy Beach Boys California, to heart-wrenching melancholy, happens seamlessly, effortlessly and typically coolly. It is involving but easy listening, and it feels like a record of unusual honesty.

Her vocals have been compared to Lana Del Rey, but this is mainly because at times they have the same grumpy, New York accent. The songs themselves are very different, and I found myself hearing more of Gwen Stefani fused with Arcade Fire in Cohen’s songs. It is this balance of carefully nuanced melodies with a certain, frank, very female voice which makes Child Bride such an enjoyable listen.  In short, Hannah Cohen is Superwoman and you should listen to the album immediately.

Anna Byrne