At just 26 years old, Hannah Gill could hardly be better established as a performer. She’s toured the world twice with Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox (PMJ), having become a regular collaborator since their “Somebody That I Used to Know” cover shot her into the spotlight back in 2017. (That video has racked up 5.5 million views to date while follow-up “Crazy” scored double that figure, making Gill a bonafide viral sensation.)
Having already got her foot in the door with pop outfit The Hours, Gill has since been promoted from the bullpen of mere jazz collaborators to the corner office of a fully fledged songstress, her name on the letterhead and some of the best instrumentalists lining up to staff her band. Everyone Loves a Lover is a perfect example of this, with pianist Gordon Webster and trumpeter Danny Jonokuchi recruited into Gill’s ranks for a twelve-track disc of swing classics.
The selection comprises a superb mix of perennial favorites and less familiar tunes, with “Autumn Leaves” and “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie” sitting alongside “Moonlight Savings Time” (a Blossom Dearie classic), “You Were Only Fooling” (Patsy Cline), and the title track, “Everyone Loves a Lover” (Doris Day). It even introduced me to a few tunes I’d never heard before, which is always very welcome. (It’s why I spend so much of my hard-earned dough on obscure LPs, after all.)
It’s almost impossible to choose a favorite amongst them, but “Moonlight Savings Time” is the track I’ve replayed most often. It’s infectiously upbeat, beginning with a playful tick-tock on the percussion and powering on for three very danceable minutes. It also features some particularly purple piano from Webster (as does closer “It’s a Sin…”) and a rich, warm vocal which is—in my opinion, at least—easier on the ear than Dearie’s girlish soprano.
If you haven’t yet heard Gill’s voice then you really ought to. It exhibits an incredible blend of sweetness, strength, and clarity—not so much smoky as steamy, like a Scandinavian spa—very reminiscent of O’Day’s sound. (Her singing voice rather reminds me of Emma Stone’s speaking voice, if that makes any sense.) The press kit from her PR team also names Ella Fitzgerald and Anita O’Day amongst Gill’s vintage vocal idols, and her style captures the essence of that golden age brilliantly. (No wonder the arena-filling PMJ wants her front and centre, when giving modern hits a retro makeover.)
That’s not to say that Gill is a one-trick pony: “It’s a Sin…” has her belting like a Broadway leading lady while “This Will Make You Laugh” sees her smoldering like a nightclub femme fatale, showing a versatility that indicates her talent as a singer and makes her music endlessly listenable. (I recently bought a Jane Powell LP and couldn’t get through both sides: her ever-present tremolo became grating after a half-dozen tracks—listening to Gill couldn’t be further from that experience.)
There’s a pleasing variety of arrangement styles on show here too, ranging from the sumptuously sweet and bluesy “Lullaby of the Leaves” to the delightfully rambunctious title track, which takes listeners to the Mardi Gras. The first of these gives upright bass man Tal Ronen a handful of bars to solo on: I’m always impressed by the range and precision of tone that a bassist this talented can squeeze out of their fretless instrument, when allowed to step forward and let fly.
The record’s other personnel showcase similarly impressive chops: Ryan Weisheit spreads some buttery-smooth sax all over “I Fell in Love with a Dream,” guitarist Greg Ruggerio has his moment on “This Will Make You Laugh,” both Jonokuchi and trombonist Sam Chess shine on “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me” and drummer Ben Zweig cuts loose on “It’s a Sin…”
Released in August, Everyone Loves a Lover is a superb contribution to the swing oeuvre—one I’m seriously considering acquiring on vinyl (along with every version of “You’re Getting to Be…” I can get my hands on—what a beautiful tune). Check it out on Bandcamp and pick up a hard copy, if that’s your thing, before they run out. Given the stature of its performers, that probably won’t take long.
Everyone Loves a Lover