PREVIEW: Hannah Sanders and Ben Savage

TWO years ago, Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage stirred the folk and acoustic world with a stand-out debut.

Hannah Sanders and Ben Savage will be live at Florence Arts Centre on Saturday, May 26.

They have now release an arresting second studio album, Awake, with the tour coming to Florence Art Centre on Saturday, May 26.

The combination of Hannah’s outstandingly pure, clear voice, their perfect fit harmonies and Ben’s exquisite dobro are the rock solid foundations of this rising duo.

This quality pairing unarguably has a hypnotic effect, painting aural dreamscapes around them in resonant songs that are given room to breathe.

The duo came together with a chance meeting at a Cambridge folk club and that was the start of something special.

Ben went on to produce Hannah’s solo album Charms Against Sorrow before they ventured into duo territory uncorking a beguiling, intricately woven, ethereal sound all their own.

Before the Sun saw them named in many Albums of the Year lists including the 2016 fRoots Critics Poll and hinted at a largely untapped song writing talent amongst the expertly executed traditional arrangements and covers.

That song writing skill moves more centre stage in Awake – an album that shows them fulfilling all that promise.

The eye-catching album cover by psychedelic artist Alan Forbes depicts the High Priestess and a deer as The Hanged Man from the tarot card deck and tarot icons run through the CD booklet.

Says Hannah: “We used tarot throughout the recording process to help us think and feel more deeply about the music.”

Awake stirs with two original Sanders/Savage numbers – the mythical sea woman yearns to return to her spiritual sea home in the banjo-laced Selkie Song and there is more heartache in I Met a Man, a modern retelling of the ancient story of love between a woman and a green man.

The original material continues in A Thousand New Moons – a luminous, gossamer-spun reflection on endings and beginnings, with Ben on lead vocal.

The symbolic number 7 is the title of a song Hannah wrote for those who search for omens in the natural world, prompted by a friend desperate for a life change.

The beautiful title track was originally written by Ben to tempt a talented friend out of a musical hiatus but has taken on a wider meaning.

Reaching is an exquisite, mellow, pin-drop perfect love song written by Hannah which closes the album in this duo’s soft tread style, building to a flourish which unusually features Ben on drums.

Awake is an album that stirs the soul and further endorses the empathetic class act that is Sanders and Savage.