Written by Ariana Brophy
Imagine you are laying against the back of the most comfy old chesterfield, an armchair-style love seat with dual recliners, draped in some lovingly worn fabric, and smelling somehow of wood smoke. Even though your eyes are closed, you know you're somewhere safe, somewhere that you don't have to be concerned. A gentle voice tells you, "You'll come home soon,"
Hana Stretton, of London, UK, a songwriter and apparent soundscape artist, recorded what is arguably amongst the more grounding album to ask for a listen in years. Opening track "Come Home" has serenaded the length of the QE2 Highway in Alberta, a gentle waving chorus of reassurance through harmonies which makes for both a beautiful introduction to the album, as well as a meditative stand-alone track for those who prefer to loop a song endlessly.
Recorded by the artist during her time in the Australian outback, "Soon" as an album features a myriad of nature sounds and ambient elements. What results is an album meant for listening to while moving through motions of a quiet type, as the quiet of some of these elements is lost to the noise of a moving vehicle or train. Without taking visual cues, a person who chooses to embark on this auditory journey is welcomed into a gentle world which boasts tasteful arrangements of string, wind, and reed instruments, a gentle pulsing album of songs for a soul in need of stillness.
While fans of straightforward, storytelling songwriting may need to seek lyrical fulfilment elsewhere, this album doesn't lack in vocal arrangements or movement, with Can II feeling like stumbling upon on the late-night rehearsal of some maternal figures; Imagine a table of mothers, sisters, friends, all entertained by a task but humming and working absentmindedly along with the rhythm of a friend who plucks at instruments in the background. This album as a whole feels reminiscent of growing up slowly amongst the wildflowers, recalling the remnants of childhoods before technology, of listening to the silence of a still space, and an open window, and finding in it peace.
Paired with rolling hills and sweeping prairies dusted with walls of windblown snow, it is easy to see what might inspire a person to record the sounds of nature. By using the natural textures of her lovely voice, and instruments and rhythm sparingly, Hana Stretton has created something softly earthen; If only it were warm enough to go outside and breathe it in.