For some, a quick perusal through Hannah Cohen’s back story might compel further exploration into her music. For others, it’s a potential turn-off. Yet anyone who refuses to allow Child Bride to speak for itself is missing out on a folk-pop offering that’s spritely and winsome in equal doses.
Cohen is a former NYC model-turned-musician who dated well-connected songwriter Jesse Harris as she was earning her big break. In short, it’s hardly got the grit of the typical folk songstress’ story. There are no cabins to hide in. There are no small, near-empty saloons to play. Yet it hardly discounts Cohen’s artistic offerings. No matter how she arrived, the bottom line is that Cohen has made an impressive debut.
‘Don’t Say’ starts off the album with acoustic images of a darker Laura Gibson. The vocal work of both is also similar. ‘California’ lightens the proceedings with a summery acoustic approach that features a Beach House-like canvas. Cohen becomes most vulnerable on ‘Say Anything’ on which she asks the listener, “Won’t you fall asleep with me tonight?/I’ll say anything for you … Tell me what you want me to do.”
Child Bride’s highlight is its centre point, a tent pole titled ‘Boy + Angel’ that holds up the entire affair. At nearly five minutes in length, it’s the longest song on Child Bride and it’s the most complete sonic statement she makes on the ten songs present. The minor tones, haunting piano, affecting harmonies and overall movement show Cohen can go anywhere she pleases – and maybe venture beyond the folkish styling that she has displayed until now.
The deft touch of producer Thomas Bartlett is felt throughout the album. While Bartlett is best known for his collaborations and work with artists such as The National and Antony and the Johnsons, his own work as Doveman has much in common with Cohen. Both involve sleepy, affecting work that haunts and inspires in places few artists can reach.