Hannah Wicklund - The Prize

Hannah Wicklund – The Prize (Album Review)

Hannah Wicklund 2024

Some are born with a calling, and for Hannah Wicklund music is it. Surrounded by music since she was a child, before turning ten years old she put together a band called Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones. An inspiring story, it was not just fun and games for Wicklund, because her passion has led her to big things, now taking a bold step forward with her latest album The Prize.

Initially set for release in October of 2023, but pushed back until January of 2024, in the full-length’s place (on October 27th) there was the offering of a four track EP entitled Hell In A Hallway. Giving the new music more time to find a broader audience, the EP showcased a growth in Wicklund’s approach to songwriting that can only be attributed to earned life experience.

Looking back slightly for those not all too familiar with Wicklund, the South Carolina native musician initially was introduced to the world with her 2018 album Hannah Wicklund and the Steppin Stones. A record that was a mix of Rock with some Blues and Soul, it led Wicklund out on tour all over the place; and in 2022 she toured as direct support for Marcus King on 45 dates, plus opened for Greta Van Fleet on the Canadian leg of their Dreams In Gold tour. Something to take note of, clearly her passionate approach to music attracted the attention of Greta Van Fleet’s Sam Kiszka; who would in fact sign up to produce The Prize. An interesting teaming, Kiszka would also perform bass, keys and organ, while fellow Greta Van Fleet member, Daniel Wagner, played the drums for Wicklund’s new album. Something that should strike your interest… what The Prize has to offer is really something unique.

An album consisting of ten tracks in total, four of which were on the Hell In A Hallway EP, through it all Wicklund bears her soul. Emotional and lively, what mostly stands out about this new collection of tracks is the maturity in the songwriting. Refined, yet raw in the sense of what Rock-n-Roll’s true spirit is, the songs all come from Wicklund’s heart and you can hear that in each performance.

Something that will appeal to fans of Rock-n-Roll that is human, thoughtful, and not overly processed, it is truly a breath of fresh air in a time where it feels like the art of songwriting is dying. A time where it feels like producers and major record labels are letting technology take the lead, rather than human intuition, artists like Wicklund remind us there is still hope. With this in mind, the album flows like water, dipping and diving through a diary of very personal, real songs. Much to absorb, some of the most magical moments would have to include “Hell in the Hallway,” “Witness,” and the delicate “Songbird Song.” However, “Lost Love” is another gem that could easily be imagined on Pop Rock radio in a saner time when true musicianship was more widely acknowledged.

Beyond this, “Sun to Sun” is a sultry tune well-worth the time, and “Hide and Seek” is flawlessly stunning. Looking at the latter a little bit deeper, “Hide and Seek” is the perfect combination of darkness, melody, and heaviness that shows why when Rock-n-Roll is done right, there is simply nothing better.

All in all, Hannah Wicklund is a young woman whose hard work, dedication, and desire to follow her dreams shines through on The Prize. Just shy of turning 27 years old in April of 2024, it seems Wicklund has transcended into the next level of enlightenment that takes some a lifetime to achieve, if at all. This is an album that rocks you, but also soothes your restless soul. Truly a must listen if you fancy yourself a fan of real Rock-n-Roll, Cryptic Rock gives The Prize 5 out of 5 stars.

Hannah Wicklund - The Prize
Hannah Wicklund – The Prize / Strawberry Moon Records (2024)

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