“I got a new home and I’m staying, if the river don’t mind me” sings Matt Hannah, a New York City transplant now living in Northeast Minneapolis. Hannah’s latest Americana-folk album, “Dreamland” is his best work to date. With Bob Dylan-esque vocals, vibrant acoustic guitar rhythms and melodic organ and steel guitar flowing in and out of his songs,
Hannah seems to have found the right recipe. “The last (album) I did, ‘Let the Lonely Fade’ I really just made for fun in my apartment. I didn’t know anyone and didn’t have a lot of resources. I pretty much made it for myself.” said Hannah. One of the significant differences on ‘Dreamland’ is the production. Hannah went from handling all of the instrumentation and production himself on the last album to allowing others to share in the creative process. “It was humbling,” Hannah admitted. “Good production is three dimensional. I was looking at expanding the sound. Having much more depth to it…and getting as many great players as I could get, which I was lucky to have on this album,” added Hannah.
Hannah discussed with record producer Matt Patrick of The Library Recording Studio in Northeast Minneapolis who he would like to have on the album – Patrick made it happen. “I was consistently amazed.” said Hannah of Patrick’s creative approach and decisions on “Dreamland.” Other musicians brought on to perform included guitarist Erik Koskinen, bassist Ian Allison, and JT Bates on drums. “It was just an honor to be working with him at all,” said Hannah of working with Bates.
Hannah’s travels were a major influence on a lot of the songs on ‘Dreamland.’ He grew up in Michigan in a small town just outside of Saginaw. After high school Hannah moved to Ann Arbor. After that he moved to New York City for a little over eight years, from the time he was 21 to 30 years of age, working at a small vintage guitar shop. While in NYC, Hannah and his wife Crystal Yakacki decided they wanted a change. “We were looking for something that had more access to nature. Something a little more relaxed and affordable but still had a lot of the advantages that New York had culturally.” Crystal also wanted to return to go back to school and after weighing their options decided on the U of M.
“We lived in Como student area for about a year-and-a-half. Humorously, we moved from there to Dinkytown thinking we had a great deal on renting. We were the oldest people there!” laughed Hannah. After two years they decided on a place in Northeast Minneapolis which they’ve now called home for almost two years. “There is a real sense of a scene here. I honestly feel much more present here. People are kind and want to be helpful,” said Hannah who spent most of his NYC years in Queens and the Lower Eastside. Hannah also credits his supportive wife for making this album so successful adding that she handles a lot of the PR work. “We have a vision for both our lives and we’re always just trying to move toward that. I think we’re good at protecting what’s important to each other,” said Hannah.
From “Let the Lonely Fade” to “Dreamland,” Hannah has shown growth as an artist. There is a distinct feel of calmness and beauty on “Dreamland.” There are songs that take the listener on Hannah’s journeys as he finds a place to settle and call home. Songs like “The Night is My Home” and the stripped down “Morning Song” feel like familiar places.
The entire album is like soundtrack to the seasons here in the Midwest. Watching the transformation from the cold of winter to the warmth of spring. A near perfect accompaniment to a crisp fall night or mid summer evening by the fire with family and friends. Hannah and his music have both found a new home in Minneapolis that feels and sounds like they were meant to be here all along.
Matt Hannah will be at the Warming House 4001 Bryant Ave. S., Minneapolis on February 24. Info: matthannahmusic.com.
Below: Matt Hannah (Photo by Mike Madison)