Music Review: Hanson - The Walk
Written by Kate C. Harding
Published June 23, 2007

I consider it a travesty that most people’s first and only encounter with Hanson was the wildly popular, heavily overplayed, and super annoying “MmmBop.” It’s not that it wasn’t a fun pop song. The problem was that they were very young and had long hair and, as a result, pretty much everyone over the age of 15 wrote them off. If you were one of those people then you probably never heard their sophomore album This Time Around, or the folk-inspired Underneath (one of the most successful independent albums of all time), which was one of the better albums to come out in 2004.

But it’s not too late to catch up. Completely independent now on their own label 3CG Records, the Hanson brothers are doing things their own way and it just so turns out that their way is catchy pop masked inside a hefty layer of totally accessible folk rock.

The Walk, out now, is as independent as it gets. The trio wrote, produced, and recorded at their own studio and this album is creatively every bit their own. It’s a winning combination.

With a little bit of soul, a heavy dose of rock, and a whole lot of heart, this album is both mature and very self-aware. What I love most is that while middle sibling Taylor has a unique and powerful voice, they have made the decision not to let it overpower the adroit guitar playing, which takes precedence on nearly every track.

My one criticism is the addition of youngest brother and drummer Zac as lead vocalist on the two songs “Go” and “Running Man.” He actually has a very strong voice, in a much deeper timbre than Taylor, but I feel that the songs he was given are two of the weakest here. It is not a good showcase for him and I could have done without the tracks altogether.

“Been There Before” is one of the best songs and should absolutely be released as a single. It’s a story about the history of rock ‘n roll and about what music can do for the soul. With its blues-inspired guitar, it will be good for yours.

If you do nothing else, download “Great Divide.” The song about hope features vocals from an African children’s choir that the band met while traveling to learn more about the AIDS crisis. It is both haunting and uplifting and should be this generation’s “We Are the World.”

Forget “MmmBop.” Give grown-up Hanson a chance. If you’re a fan of indie rock you won’t regret it.

#1 — June 23, 2007 @ 19:22PM — biz
:)<3 hanson <3

#2 — June 23, 2007 @ 23:00PM — Melissa
I honestly think part of the reason why people don't want to give Hanson another chance is because they'd be afraid to admit that they're fantastic.

#3 — June 24, 2007 @ 10:21AM — Claire
Nice to see a good review which comments on the music, instead of how long their hair is or something just as daft! :)

Although the comment on Zac singing lead - he sings on three more tracks on the record as well as the two mentioned (Fire On The Mountain, Tearing It Down and The Walk), and I think he does a pretty good job. The switching of lead vocals mixes the album up a bit and I think it sounds fresher for it.

#4 — June 28, 2007 @ 09:02AM — kajsa
I think Zac's voice is wonderful and it fits the song's perfectly...Zac <3

#5 — June 28, 2007 @ 09:30AM — Kate C. Harding [URL]
Glad this review is getting some views and that you've all commented.

I'd like to say that I really do enjoy Zac's voice. It's quite strong. I just think it would be showcased so much better in stronger songs.

Overall, a fantastic album. I have no fear of say that I'm a Hanson fan. Rock on!

#6 — July 10, 2007 @ 03:15AM — Kate
Sometimes I think music critics don't actually listen to the whole album. Saying that Zac has lead vocals on two of the songs pretty much proves the point. How strong is his voice on "The Walk" or "Tearing it Down?" And what about Isaac's song? No opinion on that? It differs stylisticly from the rest of the album and should, at the very least, be mentioned in a review of the album.

#7 — July 11, 2007 @ 21:38PM — Kate C. Harding
I appreciate your feedback, and just went and re-listened to the album to see if I would change my review were I writing it now. I feel pretty confident that I would not.

I think the most important thing when reviewing is to give an overall impression of the album. I find, personally, when I READ someone else's review, I don't like a song by song analysis. I find it too tedious and that it doesn't leave enough room for me to form my own opinions. That's why I don't mention every song.

I mentioned Zac's two particular songs, becuse I found them to be noteworthy, not necessarily because of his singing, but because I found the songs to be weak spots in the album. But of course, reviewers are just music lovers too, so we're all bound to diagree, right?

I will say, though, that I ALWAYS listen to the full album, most of the time, three to four times, if I have enough time before my deadline.

But, like I said, I really apreciate the feedback. That's what's so great about BC.

#8 — August 3, 2007 @ 10:22AM — Andrea
I'm excited that Hanson is getting this kind of feedback. I'm glad that you provided readers with a little bit of background history, too. I've been a Hanson fan for 12 years, and I have always been very critical of the band. I agree with you completely that Running Man and Go are weak. In fact, when I heard that they were releasing "Go" as the first single, I said to myself, "What are they doing!?" Because they need the exposure and radio airplay, I think that "Georgia" and "Watch Over Me" would have been much more beneficial.

I'm curious, though, have you reviewed any of Hanson's other albums? Why did you choose to review this one?

#9 — August 3, 2007 @ 13:52PM — Kate C. Harding [URL]
Thanks for the very kind feedback. I have not ever reviewed any of Hanson's albums for this publications, but did review one of the older ones (can't remember the name off the top of my head, but it was the album containing "If Only.") for a magazine I used to write for.

I reviewed this one because it came across the BC desk and I snatched it up because I have also thought that Hanson has long been underappreciated and thought, should the album be as good as I expected it to, that it might provide them some quality feedback and press.

#10 — September 29, 2007 @ 01:27AM — J
Yah I think I'm gonna have to whole-heartedly agree with everyone on the Zac voice thing. It's really good. I'm not sure what the criticism is, actually. I like "Running Man" and "Go" a whole lot too so I'm just gonna say that too. Review much appreciated, though.

#11 — March 23, 2008 @ 06:03AM — christy
I've always liked hanson and think they have always been awesome. Even middle of nowhere still rocks. Come on, they we all under 16 and could harmonise great and play live. The walk rocks!!!!!!

#12 — March 23, 2008 @ 06:06AM — christy
Hanson have always been good. People shit me that only remember mmmbop. Get ova it! Nice review but zac rocks. Everyone go out and buy the walk. It's awesome!!!!