Darren Hanlon Hello Stranger

Darren Hanlon is an accidental solo artist who has spent the past decade down under hiding in the background of other bands, such as the Lucksmiths and the Simpletons, rather than hogging the spotlight. But after touring by himself for the past couple of years, he's finally ready to release his first full-length album, Hello Stranger, and the world is a better place as a result. Hanlon's gift for language is what elevates his songs above most other people. He has a very similar turn of phrase to Billy Bragg, playing with words and puns in the most pleasing way possible. The intelligent lyrics are so vitally important that they overshadow the musical accompaniment, which is very often sparse and understated. A perfect example of his wordplay is "The Kickstand Song," a song that tells of the invention of bike stands and how such a simple thing touches so many people's lives; the fact that he can construct such a wonderful song around something so mundane speaks volumes. Hello Stranger is an impressive debut that has propelled Hanlon to the upper echelons of indie songwriters in one fell swoop. Simply put, this is one of the best records I have heard this year. (Drive-In)