HANNAH ROSE PLATT – Deathbed Confessions (Xtra Mile Recording)

Deathbed ConfessionsHannah Rose Platt’s music extolls the peculiar enjoyment of buttered popcorn and a hammer horror film marathon. Her new album, Deathbed Confessions, which comes all the way from her native Liverpool and her new home in Bristol, is filled with “shadowy characters, spooky destinations, and surreal narratives”. And Hannah braves all the aberrant (and grizzly!) subject matter with a deeply sweet voice that paints with ever-changing chameleon colours.

And, yes, these Deathbed Confessions manage great pop music that’s pumped into a truly velvet cinematic heart.

But to the music: ‘Dead Man On The G Train’ chugs with dramatic acoustic urgency. HRP’s vocals have a spectral charm that linger like a steam-powered obituary. And there’s a slight Kate Bush (without the “Wuthering Heights” helium) elastic vibe. The tune accelerates with a nice, to quote Ian (without the ‘A’) Anderson’s “locomotive breath”, into a clever ending in which, perhaps, the always quite clever Sherlock Holmes should be tasked with an investigation!

And because this is a folk site, it’s important to suggest all this train talk (without adultery, a flute solo, or “a pistol” pulled from “my left thigh!)) can be linked traditionally to the song, ‘The Ballad Of John Axon’, by Ewan MacColl and Charles Parker, which recounts the tale of our John A. who, during a train wreck “was killed instantly in the collision.” But, “Instead of leaping to safety as soon as the brakes failed, he heroically clung onto the side of the cab, hoping to wrestle it back under control further down the line, to avert any further loss of life” (Thank you, Rob Young’s Electric Eden book!).     

All that nicely remembered and stored for a possible Jeopardy prompt, there’s more sublime music: ‘Wendigo Rag’ is yet another wild ride that glances at the fun of Kate Bush’s ‘Wedding List’. Big compliments all around. Better still is ‘Hedy Lemarr’, with a guitar stum and the lonely piano grace of Nick Drake in his ‘Pink Moon’ or ‘One Of These Things First’ brilliance. Then, ‘Home For Wayward Dolls’ perks with percussion, a music hall pulse, a bit of a weird carnival ride ticket price, and more of HRP’s elastic vocals, while the song is a “Fly-on-the-wall view of a young woman being led astray through the eyes of a toy”. This has a Rod Serling’s Twight Light Zone ironic and always twisted perspective.

Thankfully, because this is a folk music site, ‘The Mermaid And The Sailor’ mines the deep tradition of tragic sea mythology, with the dual voiced (Thank you, producer and sailor voiced Ed Harcourt!) combustion of youthful ignorance and deep sea sexy enticement. Of course, to all the aficionados and keen readers of Folk Roots magazine, the customary three guesses are not needed to figure that the poor guy takes the tragic plunge, thereby proving he has never bought a Steeleye Span (or even worse!) Fairport Convention record, and consequently leaving him without a wit about the “demon lover”, “Tam Lin”, or the sad saga of “Crazy Man Michael” who killed a clairvoyant raven who just happened to be his “true love” in disguise; and thus, giving amble evidence beyond any reasonable doubt that said “sailor” certainly deserves a watery grave that is (as said in ‘Sir Patrick Spens’) “fifty fathoms deep”!

And, concerning that Crazy Michael, who “ranted and raved” over the murdering his girlfriend who looked like a bird mistake, my friend, Kilda Defnut, is quick to comment, “I always hate it when that happens!”

Thankfully, all of this is followed by the brief orchestrated ‘Inventing The Stars’ which allows the cinema soul of this music to once again “Shine On Brightly”.

And it continues with the lovely ‘The Kissing Room’ which oozes Hollywood big screen slow-danced piano passion.

By the way, just so you know, train guy hero John Axon was awarded the George Cross (of course) posthumously; and while that’s a nice idea, perhaps, and it’s just a thought, a folk song tribute is always a much greater accolade.

That said, ‘The Gentleman’ pumps rarified air into the groove with a quick pace, and even more of those sweet elastic vocals and (almost) Beach Boys harmonizing.

And suddenly, ‘Tango With Your Feet’ dances a smile into this rather diverse jigsaw of an album.

Of course, all of this is punctuated with the sublime ‘Feeding Times For The Monsters’, that slithers like an Eden snake and erupts into the big electric guitar crescendo that kisses with ever-popular Radiohead lipstick.

And that opens a funhouse door to ‘Dead Man’s Reprise’, which slows the original tune and glimpses briefly into a sadly remembered spooky purgatorial final fatal double murder ride.

The final song, ‘For The Living For The Lost’, oozes with piano drama and sonic vocal wisdom, which is a decent prayer (with sympathetic sax!) that melodically welcomes a safe return home after a rather long journey which still loves buttered popcorn, visits the odd graveyard, is well aware of the odd “demon lover”, contemplates a good murder mystery, and transforms “Deathbed Confessions” into folk-pop tunes dripped with chameleon voiced drama and a nicely weird velvet and always surreal hammer horror cinematic heart.

Bill Golembeski

Artist’s website: https://www.hannahroseplatt.com/

‘The Mermaid & The Sailor’ – official video: