"Rendezvous" by Hannah WoofReview
As previously & regularly noted, that purveyor of finely & perfectly honed gems, Hannah Woof, releases new material less frequently than perhaps we'd like her to, but the outcomes are always worth the wait.
Therefore when "Rendezvous" comes out on 28th July, (and it will be later followed by other parts of an EP), I'm sure it will please a lot of you (the last I heard mention of her in public was at the recent Godiva Festival: when Jake Rizzo performed their collaboration "Obvious", her name got a big cheer from the crowd). It has already begun getting airplay on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire in anticipation of its release.
Her follow up to last September's "Remedy" (yes it's been that long), "Rendezvous" featured in her live set on Leamington's Bandstand for the Open Arts Festival back in May & captured my attention so much that if you look back to my review, you'll see it gets a special mention.
You'll also remember I said "..look forward to me describing it to you as "Hannah's best to date".." so here we are & I'm saying it to you. I also called it, after just the one hearing, "..quintessential Hannah Woof, it pulls no punches with its mordant wit.." and that holds true still too.
I love that Hannah keeps on evolving in so many ways, yet the qualities like that acerbity remain intact from 2015's ‘Sleepless Nights' EP: that is still her defining characteristic & identifies her so well as a writer, though these days the sweetness & the fullness of production (this one was produced & mixed by Jordan Round and mastered by Riley Knapp) compared with her debut can fool you for an instant.
The new single oozes with schadenfreude from its opening lines ("I hope your van breaks down, I hope your beard falls out & I hope your wife finds out…" Over a decade making new music & Hannah has still yet to pull a punch.
To be honest, I'm beginning now to wonder how much the autobiographical informs all her songs & how much observation. I'm pretty certain that her earlier work was the former (it was so emotionally intense) but I can only hope that her life (though she describes herself as "..your friendly neighbourhood 20-something year old singer-songwriter with issues…") can't contain all the stories she tells, especially the one in "Rendezvous". If it's not based on her own life, then she's a most forensic observer (I can well believe that) who then continues to call out, to the point of skewering, the object of her scorn.
Possibly a close relative of the "Blue Eyed Bastard" we met on her first EP, we are talking about an adulterous, exploitative & predatory man, for whom she has little (sorry "nothing") but contempt. However as I've noted before when Hannah steam magnificently into some scumbag & his behaviour, she maintains her own dignity & objectivity, and frees herself from victimhood: "I'll keep my bitterness at bay". "I hope that you'll feel jaded when you find out that I've been with someone new. That isn't you". If songs explode in me on tiny points, then with "Rendezvous" it could be that last little three word phrase, which Hannah delivers after the merest pause as a withering coup de grace. Hannah Woof in this mood is simply magnificent.
She'd be the first one to say that her music has evolved & continues to do so (in fact she does just that in her website, the link to which we provide attached to this article). You'd have to be very insensitive not to spot the paradigm shift in how Hannah Woof songs sounded with 2019's "Sweet Talk" (you'll also find it on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Two') of which she says "..this was my ‘coming out' song, reflecting a more playful and nuanced approach to growing up, along with an upbeat and catchy chorus…" and every one of her songs since has had a similarly fuller arrangement & production. But where with lesser artists "more nuanced" equates to something less powerful & more conciliatory, Hannah skilfully evaded that trap. I was flattered to find a few of my words describing her 2022 single "Remedy" on her website, in which I suggest that though you find more instruments than formerly on her records, there are still only the ones she needs: her voice remains the key element regardless of the more pop arrangements: ones which, to be honest, are far more likely to do the trick of introducing her to a wider audience. But that's an audience which is going to have to accept Hannah for what she is & not one who will have their expectations pandered to.
I think "Rendezvous" is superb: more strong medicine from someone who's never dispensed anything else. Yes: despite a very high bar having been set a long time ago, it may be her best yet. I was delighted when I heard that her collaboration with Jake mentioned above was selected by the producers of "Love Island": a huge profile boost & recognition of her talents by parts of the mainstream media. I doubt, given the lyrics, that they'd find "Rendezvous" suitable for the show, but I'd hope that now her name is circulating at that level, someone similar will pick up on it & help her take another step on her road to Wembley.