- Michael Hahn, Nash-Vegas Dreams
For decades, Nashville. Tenn., has stood as the country music capital of the world, a gleaming, rhinestone-studded mecca to which countless singers with nothing more than a guitar and a dream have pilgrimaged. Of course, you'll never hear of the vast majority of those would-be stars. For every honky-tonk hopeful who realizes their dreams of being discovered, the grindhouse that is the country-music biz chews up and spits out numerous others. But that doesn't keep people from trying to make it in the Music City anyway. For example, Vermont's Michael Hahn.
Hahn is best known to locals as an in-demand multi-instrumentalist and a member of the Northeast Kingdom rock band Hornbeam. He's also an author with five books to his credit. What Vermonters might not know about the Berklee College of Music grad is that, for the past five years, he's been recording a solo album, Nash-Vegas Dreams, splitting time between Vermont and Nashville. Actually, given how many musicians appear on the record, there's a good chance locals not only know about it but played on it.
Hahn's latest is a labor of love — emphasis on labor. The album was recorded at six different studios, including four in Nashville and two in Vermont. It features 27 performers. Many of those are hotshot Nashville session players with credits such as Kenny Chesney and Clint Black. But Nash-Vegas Dreams has plenty of local flavor, too — most notably Vermont vocalist and aspiring country star Keeghan Nolan, who sings backup on four cuts.
Fair warning: Hahn's voice is not for everyone. In moments on Nash-Vegas Dreams, his thin, reedy delivery borders on grating. He ain't a pretty singer. But Hahn does sing with a lot of character and charm, which is an apt vehicle for his unconventional but compelling writing style.
Throughout the record, Hahn strikes a fine balance between earnestness and lighthearted brashness. Opener "Meet Me in the Moonlight," for example, is sweet and heartfelt. Ditto the pedal-steel-heavy ballad "Here's Your Love Song." Meanwhile, songs such as "Chick Magnet" and "Please Don't Come Around" reveal a playful streak that winks at bygone country jesters such as Johnny Paycheck.
It's no surprise that, given the caliber of his backing musicians, Hahn's latest sounds nearly perfect. The performances throughout are flawless, giving even Hahn's most blues- and rock-informed tunes an authentically twangy edge. With all of that star power and the overabundance of hired hands, it would seem easy for Hahn to get lost in shuffle. Fortunately, the singer and his top-notch songwriting remain the focus of Nash-Vegas Dreams.
Nash-Vegas Dreams by Michal Hahn will be available soon at CDBaby.