Jim Hanft: Weddings Or Funerals | Review

At first listen to Jim Hanft’s debut album, Weddings Or Funerals, one can tell that the singer-songwriter raised just outside Philadelphia has a passion for intimacy.  From start to finish, the album plays as something of an acoustic coffee shop session – with the occasional backing band thrown in the mix for a kick – to provide a warm, affecting collection of musical storytelling.

Hanft’s voice, delivered with understated character, never strays too far from its roots, and the vocalist’s sound bears more than a passing resemblance to Deer Tick’s John McCauley – albeit minus some of that alternative folker’s cigarette-and-whiskey-tinged crackle.  Couple this with the fitting accompaniment of Hanft’s ongoing collaborative partner, Samantha Yonack, and the result is a delicate, lyrical album that should appeal to typical love-struck young ladies – and perhaps more than a few fellows – seeking their hopeless romantic fix.

As for the individual tracks on the record, they range from quiet, reserved acoustic tales to a few more traditional, folksy melodies.  Overall, though, the songs maintain a simple tenderness, and the album’s strongest points are undoubtedly Hanft’s largely unplugged, minimalist offerings.  Tracks like “Kerosene” and “Alternate Route” provide poignancy to lyrics that would be lost in a more polished setting and emerge as album highlights.  As it stands, the collection all sounds like a rehearsal session that just happened to get caught on tape.  And, in this case, that’s far from a bad thing.

Weddings Or Funerals is slated for release on April 10, 2012.  Jim Hanft will be hosting a CD release party for the album on April 11 at The Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, California.