Shout It Out

Hanson

3CG, 2010

http://hanson.net

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/02/2010

Hanson makes me smile.

And, sometimes a smile is all you need.  In 1997, this trio of brothers issued the punchy, exuberant Middle Of Nowhere, one of the decade’s teen pop classics, and while adulthood has brought new insights and concerns, as well as an added layer of sophistication, the fundamentals of their music remain the same.  Taylor Hanson still takes his vocal cues from Michael Jackson’s days with the Jackson 5; the hooks and choruses are still unstoppably infectious; and the music is still a giddy mixture of classicist piano pop with foot-tapping blue-eyed soul.

Shout It Out, the eighth studio disc from brothers Taylor (vocals/keys), Isaac (guitars/vocals) and Zak (drums/vocals), veers confidently between finger-snapping blue-eyed funk-pop and gorgeous piano ballads.  Kickoff track “Waiting For This” delivers a sunburst of optimism before dropping right into totally groovalicious lead single “Thinkin’ ‘Bout Somethin’.”  The latter features Taylor on electric piano while Zak keeps the feet tapping with a snappy drum/percussion line and Isaac punctuates the verses with blasts of guitar.  The elements that take the song over the top, though, are a horn section that never lets up, and a vocal that reminds of the pure exuberance Steve Winwood gave off on “Gimme Some Lovin’” back in the day.  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

What’s different from Nowhere days is that this track has an lyrical edge to it; it’s actually a smartass kiss-off, with Taylor singing “I’ve been thinkin’ ‘bout somethin’ / Other than you” to his cheating soon-to-be-ex.  “Kiss Me When You Come Home” follows with a dynamite piano hook that does what great hooks do – holds the whole rest of the song together.  Middle-section highlights include “Give A Little,” which features a nice Ric Ocasek surface-tension riff from Isaac that subsequently blossoms, punctuated by another strong horn chart, and “And I Waited,” which grafts an assertive guitar lead onto a toughened-up disco beat; it comes off a bit like a parallel-universe run at “Beat It.”

Toward the end, “These Walls” builds off a piano line that’s a close cousin of Springsteen’s immortal “Backstreets,” and “Voice In The Chorus” brings those snappy-snappy horns back.  The album closes with “Me, Myself and I,” a stunning breakup ballad, thoughtful and heartfelt, beautifully composed, arranged and played, with just Taylor, his piano, and background vocals from Zak and Isaac.

Shout It Out is a solidly enjoyable disc with no pretensions of being a great one.  Entertaining as these tunes often are, there is a sameness to them; they all sound very much like, well, Hanson.  You can pretty much predict when the foot-tapping light funk is going to transition to the soaring piano ballad, and that it’s all going to sound super-clean and bright.  That said, the somewhat same-y middle section is sandwiched by some absolutely terrific numbers at the beginning and the end. 

My ultimate take on Shout It Out is simple: there is not so much joy in the world that we can afford to squander it when it makes itself known.  These three guys clearly love making music, and pour themselves into every note.  Enjoy this album for what it is, and you will enjoy it indeed.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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