Letters Under Floorboards is the new, much awaited album from UK Americana artist Hannah Rose Platt. Followers of Belles and Gals will know that we’re big fans of the London based Liverpudlian and it’s fantastic to see Hannah release her second album (after her debut release ‘Portraits’ in 2015).
This sophomore album from Hannah has a different feel to ‘Portraits’ – keeping some of the story telling aspects of her debut, while the singer has more reflective and personal moments enshrined within the eleven tracks.
The opening track is the high energy ‘Illuminate’, a brilliant introduction about using past events in your life to illuminate the way forward. Already you know that Hannah Rose Platt has evolved as an artist, this opener bringing something to the table not seen before.
‘Chanel and Cigarettes’ is next up and creates a wonderful, dark and seductive tale about a spectral female figure who hits on unsuspecting male adulterers. Check out the official video for the song below.
Sculptor is the first of a series of songs reflecting on abusive relationships and oppression. This track sees the sculpting as a metaphor for wanting a woman to change the person she is so it fits in with a man’s ideals – ‘paint her a different colour, till her brightness is covered in shade, as vitality fades, you just take a step back to admire the ornament you’ve made’. ‘Your Way’ immediately follows (this song features the title lyrics). The almost mournful production on this track is perfect, a song dealing with being in a controlling relationship, while ‘Checkmate’ later in the album sees a female ‘stuck here with nothing to lose’ and ready to break away. ‘Black Smoke’ sees Hannah move into full rock mode, a song about an over-familiar man reacting badly and lashing out when being given the brush off. The subject matter in each of these songs will have been a tough write, but as you listen to the songs you sense a resilience coming through.
Throughout the album there are some wonderful tales too. ‘Josephine’ is a tour de force about Josephine Baker – if you don’t know anything about the life of the subject of the song, you’ll want to look her up immediately. This is a fascinating life story, brilliantly told. ‘Brooklyn, New York’ tells the tale of an Irish construction worker who made the move to the US in the early part of the last century. While ‘When Audrey Came to Call’ tells the story of Hurricane Audrey which hit the American south in June 1957, leading to the fatality of more than 400 people, the beginning of the song echoing the credits of a wild west movie. ‘I Will Tell You When’ is a song between a father and a daughter, where Syd Griffin makes a brilliant guest appearance as a soothing father, allaying his daughter’s fears during a locust swarm that devastated the Great Plains in the 1870’s – devastation of biblical proportions.
The final track of the album is ‘To Love You’, a song about a relationship that is breaking down, delivered with a gentleness that belies the heartache behind the song.
Letters Under Floorboards is a stunning album. A thread of deeply reflective and poignant moments are interspersed by historical tales, while Hannah’s emotive vocals offer both a delicacy and a power that draw you in completely. The complete songwriter, this album will surely see Hannah Rose Platt achieve a level of recognition and success that is truly deserved.