About hollyfrees

A 30-something southern yankee, I was born and raised in a small beach town in Michigan, went to college in the cornfields of Indiana, and have since called the hills and music of Nashville my home. I travel wherever and whenever I get the chance; it just so happens most of those chances involve seeing my favorite band put on a show.

ATW² + Shout It Out + Anthem

September 2-5, 2021

The Travel

I don’t have quite the travel adventure story as my last Tulsa trip, as this one was thankfully without incident. I was surprised, however, to run into a friend and her husband at my gate, and because of Southwest’s open seating, I was able to fly with them from Nashville to Dallas. (She’s also a co-worker, so reader beware if you’re one who fakes a sick day for a travel day!) I did end up spilling my soda all over myself on the flight, and I was thankful to be next to a friend instead of a random stranger.

We’ve done the Tulsa thing quite a few times over the past year, and the heat index was over 100°. So, my friends and I did not do much sight seeing this trip. The only place we went outside of the Arts District was to Nothings Left Brewery. I tried two 5oz pours of their beer: a chocolate peanut butter stout and a strawberry blonde ale. I didn’t care for the strawberry blonde, but the stout (Deez Nuts) was great! I also got their frozen flight, which is the main reason we went. It came with a cherry blackberry lime beer slush, a strawberry piña colada beer slush, and a boozy dole whip. The dole whip was definitely the best of the selection, and I’m looking forward to going back for another one some time. They were all small pours, but it added up and I was feeling quite silly the rest of the afternoon!

ATW + Shout It Out

I’ll admit it, Shout It Out is probably my least favorite Hanson album. But it’s still Hanson, and I really do love a lot of the songs on it. I didn’t realize until we were at the show how many of those songs I haven’t heard in awhile. Most notably, I’ve really missed “Give A Little” live, and I think it should come back out of the vault and replace any time Hanson wants to play “Get The Girl Back” instead. It had also been awhile since I had heard “Make It Out Alive”, “These Walls”, “Carry You There”, and “Kiss Me When You Come Home”. The biggest surprise of the night was when the groove for “Kiss Me When You Come Home” kept going, and then suddenly turned into a cover of “Hard to Handle” followed by “Hold On I’m Coming”. I was right in front of Isaac for this show, and he was really getting into, and it was great watching him have so much fun.

As for the new single, “Stronger”, this month I opted to skip listening to it until after the first concert. It had been awhile since I’ve heard a new song live for the first time, and so I wanted to remain spoiler-free this time around (pun intended, of course). I did listen to the preview clip on Hanson.net, and from that I was expecting a Taylor solo… especially after seeing the t-shirt design with just Taylor in the spotlight. And speaking of Taylor in the spotlight, if you’ve watched the music video, they mimicked that same lighting for the performance. I couldn’t easily understand all of the lyrics live that first night, but I got chills regardless. I’ll save the rest of my thoughts on “Stronger” for my Against The World review, but I hope this is one we get to hear repeatedly for a long while.

ATW + Anthem

A lot of the songs off Anthem are still in pretty heavy rotation live. However, despite it being (sort of) the title of this whole blog, I almost didn’t recognize “Scream And Be Free” when it started, because it had been so long since I had heard it live. A quick search on what my friends and I now call Hoogle (Hanson Google), aka Hansonstage, the last time I heard it was at the 2016 Hanson Day – five years ago! The highlight of the show for me was Zac’s solo of “Save Me From Myself.” This song absolutely wrecks me (and apparently Isaac), and I had only heard it one other time.

My friends and I decided to hang around and get some things signed by the guys at the end of the night, and I decided there was no better time to ask Zac to write out the words “Scream And Be Free”. One of my friends had a migraine and went back to her room, but she asked me to have Taylor sign something for her. I only had two pieces of paper on me at the time: my concert ticket (print at home version), which I decided should be the one for my friend, and my boarding pass from my flight to Tulsa – which I don’t even always print. As this blog is part Hanson, part travel, part both, it feels serendipitous that I was able to get him to write it out for me on the boarding pass, especially considering I had never even thought of asking him to until hearing it live that night.

With that, another great weekend in Tulsa came to an end. As much as I miss traveling to new places to see Hanson, and all the other things that come with a regular tour, it’s going to be weird when we eventually go back to only having Tulsa shows once a year. I always joked that it was like a second home (or third, or fourth, since Nashville isn’t my original home), but the past 12 months have definitely taken that to a new level. But whether in Tulsa, Tokyo, or the Middle of Nowhere, I will aways Scream and Be Free(s).

The PNW: Mother-Daughter Edition

August 20 – 25, 2021

Oregon

My mom and I both have a goal of seeing all 50 states. Before Covid times, she had made it to all but three: Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii. I went to Hanson’s show in Hawaii in 2019 which was state #39 for me, and Washington & Oregon were two of my remaining states as well. So, we started talking about going to see them together. Then Covid happened and travel took a halt. But, here we are a year later, vaccinated and masked and ready to go somewhere new!

I live in Nashville, and my mom lives in Michigan, so we tried our best to coordinate flights that got in around the same time and were decently priced for each of us. This meant a layover in Phoenix for each of us, and from there we were on the same flight into Seattle. However, that flight got into Seattle at midnight. Pacific time. For those of you who might be reading this outside of the US, that means it was 2am for me and 3am for my mom. We. Were. Tired. AND THEN we waited over two hours to get a rental car. I had reserved an SUV just because it was the cheapest option at the time. Instead, we got a Camaro which barely fit our luggage. At that point I had been up for nearly 24 hours and was thankful to have a car, no matter what kind it was.

After a few hours of sleep at our hotel, we got up and headed for the coast. What should have been a 3 hour drive ended up taking quite a bit more time, but we finally made it to our first real stop: Canon Beach, Oregon. It was an overcast, foggy day with a high of 63°, and honestly it was a relief after months of 90°+ in Nashville. I love any chance I can get to see the ocean, and it had been two years since I had been to the Pacific Ocean, so I made sure to stick my toes in the water – though not for long! We had a late lunch at Mo’s where we each tried their famous clam chowder. I wouldn’t normally want hot soup in August, but the weather was perfect for it.

We spent some time driving around the Canon Beach area, and then made our way toward Portland. This was a beautiful drive, and one of my favorite parts of our trip. We went through the Tillamook Forest, a rainforest that had vibrant greens everywhere we looked. As much as I did not like having a Camaro for the trip, I could tell it was built to handle curves, and it was fun to drive as we wound our way into the city. We got to Portland in time to grab dinner, but wanted to keep it light since we had a late lunch. A friend had recommended BG’s Food Cartel (technically in Beaverton, OR, which is where we were staying), as Portland is known for its food trucks. I got some sushi and tried a loganberry cider. I loved the cider and immediately regretted not having room in my luggage to bring any back home with me.

The next morning, we got an early start and went straight for Multnomah Falls. Currently, timed reservations are required to visit the falls, and we managed to book a morning time slot. However, having the reservations does not guarantee a parking spot, and everything I had read said to get there early because parking was limited. And y’all, they weren’t joking. There was one tiny lot that could maybe fit 20 cars. I was expecting a bigger lot than that! (And maybe there is additional parking elsewhere, but if so, we missed it). But, we lucked out! When we pulled in, there was one open spot! The waterfall is directly across from the lot, with a little gift shop. I was expecting to have to hike up a short path to get to it, so I was surprised to see it right away! There is a bridge that crosses between the upper falls and the lower falls, and it’s a 1/4 mile hike up to the bridge. I went up there to take some pictures, but I honestly thought the view was better from the lower falls. From below, I had a better idea of just how high up the falls are! The bridge was also the start of a longer 1-mile hike up to the top of the falls, but it was raining and we were limited on time (and I’m a slow hiker), so I opted out of that trail.

Next, we headed into the city. I love reading, but bookstores are not really my thing. I prefer borrowing from the library for free over buying a book, unless it’s something I think I’ll read multiple times. However, I knew my trip to Portland would not be complete without a visit to Powell’s City of Books. I’m big on the Enneagram (9w1 here), so I was hoping to find The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher Heuertz. How is it that a massive, four-story city-block sized book store did not have the one book I was looking for? Instead I bought The Enneagram of Belonging, also by Heuertz. I’m looking forward to digging into it, but I have another nonfiction that I’m finishing up first. I also perused the shelf of staff recommended books, and found What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad. I had never heard of it, but it’s a fictional story of a child refugee from Syria, and it sounds so good! After buying the books, we went over to Deutsches Brewery’s Public House for lunch. I’m slowly learning what beers I like, and it’s mostly porters and stouts. I ordered a half pint of their Black Butte Porter and loved it! (As a side note, can we get more half pints in America, please? In my opinion, a full pint is way too filling to have with a meal.)

After lunch, the rain cleared up and we decided to stop and smell the roses. Literally. We went to Washington Park to see the International Rose Test Garden, where they test different cross breeds of roses. There were thousands of rose bushes and hundreds of varieties, and they were all so beautiful. After visiting the park, we spent some time driving through different neighborhoods of Portland. We then grabbed some pizza for dinner from Pizzicato and then called it a night.

Washington

The following morning, we headed back up to Washington. We both wanted to see Mt. St. Helen’s, and it was only about an hour off the interstate. Once again, we found ourselves on a beautiful, winding road with incredible views. All along the way, there were patches of pine trees that were so perfectly straight*, so symmetrical, and so identical to each other that they seemed like they belonged in one of those Christmas village house sets. (*Why do we use the phrase “stick straight” when most sticks are really anything but straight?) I was told that there are two sides of the volcano you can easily get to, and that the north side at the Johnston Ridge Observatory was the more dramatic side, so we chose that one. The view from the observatory was incredible. At the observatory, there’s a summit with a 360° view, and nearly all of it had been destroyed. Mt. St. Helen’s erupted 41 years ago, and there is still very little new growth in the area, and we could still see a stream of gray ash that went for miles.

We then made our way up to Tacoma, which was on my list of places I wanted to see if we had time, but that I didn’t ever bother to read anything about, or look into any specific places to visit. We put in the address of a small waterfront park and got out and walked along a fishing pier. We drove around the town a little bit, and it seems like a beautiful place. We finally decided it was getting late enough that we should check into our Seattle hotel and grab some dinner. A college friend of mine lives in Tacoma, and he had suggested a waterfront seafood restaurant called Anthony’s. I looked it up, and it’s a local chain that had a location in the suburb of Des Moines, which was only about 10 minutes from our hotel. It was a beautiful evening, so we opted to sit outside on their deck and watch the sunset over the water while we ate. I love seafood, and that night I had some incredible scallops along with a fun cocktail. We ended up finishing dinner before the sun went down, so we walked out on another pier to wait for it to set. There were lots of people out crabbing, and I was surprised to learn they use chicken legs as crab bait!

Our fourth and final day, we made our way into downtown Seattle. Our first stop was, of course, coffee, especially since our hotel ran out and only had decaf! Neither my mom nor I care about Starbucks, but we wanted to start the day at Pike’s Place Market, so I found a different local shop, Anchorhead, right near the market. It was a great cup of coffee, and I wished I had room in my luggage to bring a bag home. Wandering through Pike’s Place took up a good portion of our morning, and it was fun to see all the different flowers, seafood, and beautiful produce for sale. At that point, we were getting hungry for lunch, and my mom had a craving for Chinese. We found a great spot in Chinatown where we could have split a meal, the portions were so large, had we only known. On our way to Chinese, we drove by the Space Needle to take a quick picture, but neither of us wanted to spend the money on going up it. After lunch, we went to find the houseboats (ala Sleepless in Seattle), but not surprisingly, they’re blocked off with private entrances. That doesn’t mean I didn’t peak my head over the hedges when I could, though.

Although neither of us care about Starbucks, I had heard that the Starbucks Reserve Roastery was worth going to, even if you aren’t a big fan of the regular Starbucks – and I agree! Aside from watching them (well, the machines) burn roast their beans, they have an entire pastry section as well as a cocktail bar. My mom doesn’t care for coffee that isn’t a simple black cup of coffee, and the normal coffee line was too long to be bothered. But, she humored me while I went to the cocktail bar and ordered a flight of espresso martinis (Orange Cacao, Molé Spice, and Cherry Limone), and we split a strawberry tart. I enjoyed each martini, and it was a fun way to wrap up the day. I had heard that Kerry Park has a great view of the city, but when I saw the hill that needed to be climbed to get up there, we decided we were too tired to be bothered. We decided to just go back to Anthony’s for dinner again and call it a night, as we had an early (5:30am) flight the next morning.

Overall, I had a great time in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m already looking forward to the chance to go again. This makes 41 states, and I have to say Oregon is at least in the top 3 most beautiful states I’ve been to so far (along with Maine and Hawaii). I know they’ve had their fair share of awful heat and wildfires the past couple years, but the weather we experienced when we were there made me want to never leave, and stepping off that plane in 97° heat was not the welcome home I would have chosen. My plane landed in Nashville at 11:50am, and I went straight from the airport to a work lunch. I can’t say that’s the first time I’ve gone straight from the airport to work (or vice versa), and I’m sure it wasn’t the last.

ATW² + Underneath + The Walk

August 6-8, 2021

The Travel

In my experience, some of the best adventures and subsequent memories start with the phrase, “I wasn’t going to go, but…” and this weekend was no exception. When Hanson first announced this 4-month ATW+ series, I decided no thank you to Oklahoma in August. (Though to be honest, it wasn’t any different than Tennessee in August.) This decision was cemented after I had a work event scheduled for the day of the Friday show.

But then.

But then I got to work on Thursday morning and was told our event needed to be rescheduled. I messaged a couple of my friends and said that now that there was no work event, I wished I was going to Tulsa. As all good Hanson friends do, they reminded me that technically it wasn’t too late, and one of them had space for me in her hotel room. This wasn’t my first last-minute decision to go to a Hanson concert two states away, but it was the first time it involved booking a last-minute flight… I bought my plane ticket 27 hours before departure time… and I only told the one friend who had a hotel room, intending to surprise the rest of my friends.

I still had a work meeting to go to on Friday morning, and there was only one flight option that left late enough for me to not miss the meeting and still arrive early enough for me to get to the show on time (read: landing at 5:48pm for a 8pm show). I arrived at the Nashville airport 90 minutes before my flight, but as soon as I stepped out of the Uber I got an alert that it was delayed 15 minutes. I’ve had worse delays, but this took my layover time down from 50 minutes to 35 minutes. By the time I got to my gate, we were delayed an additional 15 minutes… so now I had a 20 minute layover at DFW, which is not a small airport, and at the time the airline app was telling me I’d need to get from the A terminal to the C terminal.

While waiting for my flight, a woman walked up to the gate agent and started asking her questions. I couldn’t hear their exchange, but from their body language I could tell things were not okay. I assumed she was just stressed or upset about the delay, and the agent eventually asked her to please have a seat. She came and sat next to me, reeking of alcohol, and started ranting to me about the agent being rude to her. A few minutes went by, and she went back up and started asking the agent some more questions, and was again told to please sit down.

After she said back down next to me, a manager came out to talk to her. The woman kept saying she needed to get to Austin, insisting she was “okay to drive”, and that they could take her “blood alcohol” because she doesn’t drink. Thankfully, they told her she would not be allowed to get on the plane and that she could try again later in the day. She stormed off saying she’d just go to another airline, but I’m guessing that didn’t work out too well for her either. All I could think was that if they had let her on the plane and she had started acting up mid-flight, I would have been grounded somewhere and most definitely would not have been at the Friday concert.

Once we got off the ground, most of my flight to DFW went smoothly, other than half the plane being stressed about making our connecting flights. But toward the end of the flight, the woman next to me started having a panic attack and kept saying she was going to throw up. I felt for her, but was scared for myself that she would get sick – thankfully, she did not. Then, as we we’re descending, I heard a thud followed by people yelling. That is a terrible thing to hear when a plane is going down, so I immediately started thinking the worst. As it turns out, someone’s cat managed to get out of its carrier, and the owner was able to get it back in. When we landed, I noticed we were taxiing to gate C, not A like the app had told me, and I could see the plane I needed to be on to get to Tulsa. But then we stopped just shy of the jet bridge – and sat there waiting for a good 10 minutes because there was a baggage cart blocking it.

I only had to get from C15 to C8 to catch my flight, but I still literally sprinted through the airport and got there while they were boarding group 4 – and I was group 6. The flight from DFW to TUL is a short one, and I let my one friend know that I had made my connection and would be there as planned. I’m one who typically gets to shows early – even if they’re seated – so walking off the plane exactly 2 hours before show time was a new one for me. My friend was already at the venue when I landed (which I suspected she would be), so I grabbed an Uber, dropped my luggage off at the hotel, and took a Lime scooter to the venue. All the hassle was worth it when I got to surprise my friends by showing up at the venue just a few minutes before doors.

ATW+ Underneath

I’ll be honest, one thing I don’t like about “themed” concerts is that it usually leaves little room for set list surprises. However, the good part of that theme being one album+ is that there’s a good chance they’ll play some favorite songs that are rarely heard live. One of those songs for me is “Dancing In The Wind”, although I did hear it a couple times last year. It was a great opener for this show, but I do wish Taylor would pull the electric guitar out for it like he used to back in the day. If you’re reading this blog, you probably know the story behind Underneath. (If you don’t, and you’d like to, the documentary Strong Enough To Break is available for free on YouTube, though it’s broken into several parts.)

Despite knowing what they went through during the season of recording this album, and on top of knowing all these songs by heart for 17(!) years, I still never really realized how depressing some of these songs are until I heard them live this weekend, in non-album order. Putting “Underneath” and “Misery” back-to-back later followed by “Believe” and “When You’re Gone” back-to-back was a lot to process. I love all those songs, but I was thankful for the energy to pick back up at the end as they played the four released Against The World tracks. Until this show, I had only previously heard “Annalie” and “Don’t Ever Change”, but I didn’t know “Don’t Ever Change” well enough at the time. “Don’t Ever Change” and “Against The World” both sound like songs that will become future live staples, and I hope “Only Love” sticks around for a long time.

ATW+ The Walk

The Walk has always been my favorite Hanson album, and lot of the songs are ones I haven’t heard live in quite some time. That alone is reason enough that I did almost consider attending these shows from the day they were announced, and this is the one I was most excited about once I did finally decide to go. The Walk Tour in the spring of 2008 wasn’t the first time I saw Hanson live, but it was the first time I really started to “do tour” and go to multiple shows in a row. So maybe it’s nostalgia talking, but I don’t think any song can beat “Great Divide” for the best set opener. As soon as the first bar dropped, I started crying happy tears.

Maybe it’s because it was my first front row general admission show since Covid (and first front row GA in Tulsa), but I think it was more than that. Part of what keeps me coming back for more (pun absolutely intended) is that you never know what show is going to do it for you… but every once in awhile that feeling pops up. I don’t mean this to say I don’t have fun at every show (I wouldn’t keep going if I didn’t), it’s just that some of them have some sort of way… the band’s energy and the crowd’s energy match in a unique way and everything is just surreal. After talking to my friends, I definitely wasn’t the only one who felt it this time, and many of us have decided this was one of the best Hanson concerts we’ve ever been to. Since it’s not on Against The World or The Walk, I wasn’t expecting to hear “A Minute Without You”, let alone as Isaac’s solo choice. It’s a song I’ve heard live almost as many times as “MMMBop”, but the crowd sang along so loudly that it caught Isaac off guard and he forgot what he was singing half-way through the song.

I absolutely loved getting to hear some rare songs like “One More” and “Your Illusion”, and The Walk also has some old staples that haven’t been played much lately like “Blue Sky” and “Running Man”. I’d be remiss if I didn’t make a (probably insensitive) joke about Hanson playing “Something Going ‘Round” during a pandemic, but let’s just say I don’t have it (but maybe I don’t know it), and I definitely don’t need it. And we could get this herd immunity thing in motion if you’d stop acting tough and get vaccinated. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

The Moral Of The Story

If you’re on the fence about doing something, no matter how last minute the planning is… I highly suggest you just do the thing. You never know what concert might be your new favorite, or if whatever your version of a Hanson concert is will be your favorite of whatever it is. Buy the ticket. Book the flight. Run through the airport. Make the memories. Blog about it later so you don’t forget when you’re old and start losing all of your hair.

Only Love Is Gonna Save Us Now

When Hanson announced their new project Against The World would be released one song at a time, I wasn’t sure how I was going to do my blog review. Would each song get its own post? Would I wait until November when they’ve all been released? As you may have noticed, I finally settled on one blog post for all the songs combined, but that I would update that post each month as songs are released. After all, I usually only have a little snippet to say about a song anyway.

But then I heard the third track, “Only Love”, and I knew this one was going to use a lot more words than the first two songs. I decided to keep my review brief for the Against The World blog, while also making a separate post to go on a deep dive for this one.

Whenever I first listen to a song, I mostly hear how it makes me feel overall, not paying much attention to the specific lyrics. This song was an exception to that. There were several lyrics that jumped out to me, and then I listened to the song, on repeat, for my entire flight to Chicago. The first line that hit me was “she headed south, without a care, without a clue, didn’t give a damn.” What, you might wonder, could be so significant about that lyric? Well, it’s me. I’m coming up on my 15-year “Nashiversary”. I grew up in small town Michigan and went to college in small town Indiana. Then, that summer after college, I packed up my Camry, had $500 to my name, no job, and no place to live, and moved south to Nashville. I never imagined I’d be here for so long, but here we are a decade and a half later, and I have no intentions of leaving anytime soon. This lyric hits home because not only did I head south, but looking back, at a mere 23 years of age, I certainly had no cares, no clues, and no damns to give.

But as much as that lyric hit home, it wasn’t the one that made me realize this song was going to need a full blog. It was the third verse that stood out to me the most:

I know all too well my demons, and broken dreams, and running head-long into false plans
I get bogged down in self-doubt, dying inside, bleeding out, yeah
So whether hipsters or holy-rollers, we find ourselves holding court on our knees
But broken won’t define you, ’cause love can always find you
Only love is gonna save us now

Hanson – “Only Love”

I was immediately reminded of a book I read several years ago by Tim Keller, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. It’s a short little booklet that only took me about 20 minutes to re-read before writing this blog. The premise of the book is that true humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but rather thinking of ourselves less. But what this song reminded me of was how Keller says we can get to a place of thinking of ourselves less. He references 1 Corinthians 3:21-4:7, in which Paul says “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.” In Keller’s book, he runs with this analogy. He says that if our self-esteem is too high and we are prideful, we have put ourselves on trial and found ourselves innocent. And on the flip-side, if we find ourselves guilty, our self-esteem will be too low. So, what then? To quote Keller:

Here is Paul’s answer: he is out of the courtroom, he is out of the trial. How? Because Jesus Christ went on trial instead… As our substitute. He took the condemnation we deserve; He faced the trial that should be ours so that we do not have to face any more trials. So I simply need to ask God to accept me because of what the Lord Jesus has done. Then, the only person whose opinion counts looks at me and He finds me more valuable than all the jewels in the earth.

Tim Keller – The Freedom Of Self-Forgetfulness

I know not everyone reading this blog has the same belief system, but this is what I believe is true: that “only love is gonna save us now”. And in fact, it already has.

Music Review: Against The World

Annalie

I got to hear “Annalie” live during the Wintry Mix tour in 2019. I’m not sure if it’s the first time this has happened, but it was the first time I ever saw a song performed acoustically but also with the full 5-piece band. It’s a catchy song and I knew right away that I liked it. However, I liked it even better after Back To The Island when Zac explained that the song isn’t about a girl, but rather about the meaning behind the name Annalie. He did not go on to explain further at the time, but I did a Google, and the name means “God’s grace”. Suddenly the song shifts from missing a girl and wanting to travel with her, to a man feeling like he has somehow fallen out of God’s graces. He’s chasing after hope, and longing for his regrets to be washed away. While I don’t believe anyone can actually lose God’s grace (after all, what is grace if not undeserved?), I can relate to the feeling of searching for it. This just makes me wonder how many other Hanson songs have a deeper meaning than we’ve ever realized.

Favorite Lyric: “I don’t really care where we stop, as long as I get to go.”

Don’t Ever Change

I heard “Don’t Ever Change” on the Wintry Mix tour as well. I vividly remember thinking “this song sounds fun, but I have no idea what Taylor is saying.” However, that was literally all I could remember about it. To be honest, my first impression of the recorded version was “wow… that’s.. a lot.” In the song’s defense, I probably should not have listened to it immediately upon waking up at 5am. I’ll have to remember that for the next release. I listened to it a few other times that day, and my next impression was that it sounded too much like a Tinted Windows song, of which I’m not that big a fan. However, it has since grown on me. It’s not a song I’ll want in heavy rotation, but when the right mood strikes, it’s a great summer power pop love anthem. I’m looking forward to hearing it live again now that I know the lyrics. This is true of a lot of Hanson songs, but my favorite part is the way the bridge breaks down. Which leads me to…

Favorite Lyric: “You’re my first day’s thought and my last night’s prayer.”

Only Love

When I heard the preview for this song, I immediately became excited for its release. It’s rare these days to get an Isaac lead that isn’t a ballad, and I got the impression that this would be the first in a long while. On my first listen, in the beginning I thought maybe I was wrong; it starts out sounding like a lot of other Isaac songs. But then… oh, but then! It picks up and turns from ballad to gospel rock with an incredible acapella ending. I was expecting goodness, but we were blessed with greatness! And from there, as I dug deeper into the lyrics, it somehow became even better and dare I say it’s a new all-time favorite? It might be too soon to settle on that for certain, but it’s the most excited I’ve been about a new song in quite some time (and that’s not to say I haven’t been excited about others). There is so much more I want to say about this song, so I made a separate post to do so. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with my….

Favorite Lyric: “But broken won’t define you, ’cause love can always find you.”

Against The World

I went to three shows on the Wintry Mix Tour, but they skipped the song “Against The World” at all the shows I went to, so I wasn’t sure what to expect for how the song would sound. One thing I love about Hanson is that they have a way of writing songs in a variety of styles and genres. If someone who only knows “MMMBop” (or doesn’t know Hanson at all) asks me what they sound like, I never know quite how to answer; sometimes they sound like rock ‘n’ roll, sometimes they sound like Queen, sometimes it’s singer-songwriter, sometimes it’s almost country. But it’s always Hanson. With that said, my first impression listen of “Against The World”, the first thought I had was “this! this is what Hanson sounds like!” If any song can summarize the quintessential Hanson sound, it’s this. Lyrically, to me it feels like the culmination of “This Time Around” meets “Strong Enough To Break” (including a direct nod to the latter). The protagonist from “This Time Around” is in the middle of war, “Strong Enough To Break” nearly kills him, but now he’s made it through and he’s ready to move forward “Against The World”. He’s had hard times, but they’re his times now.

Favorite Lyric: “There’s equal scars from victory and failure.”

Stronger

I attended both of the September ATW+ shows in Tulsa, and this time I decided to not listen to that month’s new song, “Stronger”, until after the first show. If you’ve already read my show blog, you’ll know that hearing it live gave me chills, even though I couldn’t quite make out the lyrics. So when I got back to my hotel room that night, I of course had to listen to it on repeat while reading the lyrics on Hanson.net, and it did not disappoint. I think we’ve all been in a place of feeling broken and defeated, knowing we need to leave the past behind, but not quite sure how to move forward. And this song is such a beautiful depiction of that feeling. I don’t know if this is intentional or not, but the layered harmonies in the chorus remind me that we are only stronger together – we can’t fight our battles alone.

Favorite Lyric: “Don’t know what’s ahead, only what I’ve left.”



Against The Word is an ongoing story, and as such this blog post will be updated as more information becomes available. The next single, “One”, comes out on October 1st!