Hana Stretton – Soon
By Kate Trebra | Top Tracks: Captain’s Flat and Changing Weather
Home in the soundscape of Hana Stretton feels like a crackling fireplace with rain pattering on the window outside. It is intimate and soft, a warm embrace from the cold winds of (a Southern Hemisphere) winter. Soon, released seven years after Stretton’s previous EP Wail, is a hidden paradise consisting of soft vocals and even softer guitar.
The vocals on the opening track “Come Home” are accompanied by the rhythmic steps of Stretton and her dog trekking through the grass. The occasional jingle of a collar and the chirp of a bird complement Stretton’s wish (or rather, her promise) that the object of her affection will “come home soon”. “Captain’s Flat” is a scrawl of handwriting in the wide expanse of the Australian outback, and also the namesake of the town Soon was recorded in. Stretton sings melodies with the wind pushing behind her, the strumming of her guitar reminiscent of Alex G.
“Can I” and “Can II” serve as a duo, rich in harmonies and the feelings of well-traveled roads. Looping synthesizers turn as “Can II” adapts to the absence of a person in Stretton’s life. “Crawling back / We never did” are the first words she sings, getting used to the fact that they are gone.
On perhaps the track with the most clarity, Stretton plays a mournful song on her guitar in “Changing Weather”. She shows through sound that she is connected with nature, that she does not overpower it or allow it to take over. Instead, Stretton sings as the weather turns from a slight wind to a rainstorm, effortlessly blending the seams between what is constructed and what has already existed. The rainstorm follows the listener into “o”, one of two tracks to feature the piano.
“Micalong” is a melancholy reflection of childhood, the giggles of a baby and the soothing voice of a father working alongside the sustained chords of the piano. “Gotta stay there / In that part” Stretton sings, recalling the love and naivety of growing up. In “Captain was a Cow”, entirely instrumental, serenity and the feeling of being settled rise to the surface, a showcase of the raw emotion Stretton puts into her work, even when her voice is not the main instrument.
“Bid’s Animals” is shrouded in a thick layer of fuzz, only dispelled by Stretton’s voice. An honest testament to a fresh start, marked by the rolling plains in which the album was recorded. A flute closes out the song and the album, its tone slowly fading out until only the audio of people talking in the background takes over.
Stretton captures and immortalizes the fleeting moments of average life in Soon, the memories we often overlook until years later. Though her lyrics hide under a mound of distortion and warmth, the times when they become clear are something to be treasured. Soon is a reminder to hold our childhood and relationships close– it’s the kind of album you stumble upon and never let go of.