Singing in a fragile, angelic falsetto, at first blush singer-songwriter Jeff Hanson sounds like folkie Suzanne Vega. But listen closely to the Milwaukee native's two albums for Kill Rock Stars and you'll hear familiar echoes of fellow onetime KRS artist Elliott Smith. Like Smith, Hanson's ambling folk at times borders on the shimmer and warmth of orchestral pop, buoying sad sentiments of isolation and impotent hope. Producer A.J. Mogis (Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley) has worked on both of Hanson's albums, investing them with sumptuous yet organic warmth and a delicacy that also recalls Nick Drake. While consistent in tone, style and generally lovelorn subject matter, Hanson's particular gift for songcraft enables him to fashion distinctive arrangements with essentially the same elements each time. With an appeal similar to recent releases by Sondre Lerche and Jens Lekman, Hanson's latest, self-titled album is performed with disarming beauty and tender immediacy.
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