Hanna Grace – Concrete & Roses (Isaac Music) CD REVIEW

I DON’T LIKE being mean, but albums like this really make me wonder if it’s just become too easy to get an album out on the local market.
The press release tells us that Concrete & Roses is the “much anticipated debut album” by Hanna Grace, but somehow, I doubt the authenticity of those words.
The good things, first: there’s a level of expertise in the production, and in the performances and arrangements of the backing musicians that totally outstrips poor Hanna Grace’s seemingly meagre talents. You can hear that a lot of effort has gone into the project.
Now to the bad things: 1) Grace has exceptionally annoying vocal mannerisms that include the kind of vocal tics typical of r’n’b divas. Except that she doesn’t have the vocal skills to bring off those flights of fancy, and to cap things off, whenever she needs to emphasise a note or sound tough or forceful, she does that Satchmo frog thing, which is just painful. 2) We’re told that Grace is a poet (amongst other things) but the lyrics are uniformly turgid. The best lines on the whole record are: “You rock me to my core/And you always leave me wanting more.” 3) Stylistically, it’s all over the show, from dramatic balladry to faux Lily Allen mixing swing and hip-hop scratching, and she even has a naff take on an old Percy Mayfield song.
Hanna Grace is possibly really talented… at something. She’s probably also a really nice person. But what she isn’t, at this point, is a singer or a songwriter of any distinction. Sorry. GARY STEEL
Music = 2/5
Sound = 2.5/5

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