Paddy Hanna - Imagine I'm Hoping
1. Look For Tomorrow 05:14
2. A Dancer 02:39
3. New York Sidewalk 03:42
4. Nightmares 03:54
5. Say Goodbye 04:27
6. Yoko Ono 04:23
7. Our House In The Hill 04:00
8. Symphony Bacalao 04:07
9. Yellow Buffalo 03:15
10. Imagine I'm Hoping 05:56
About this album
There are few artists who could count Burt Bacharach and Fontaines DC amongst their fans but Paddy is one of them. The Dubliner has long eschewed passing fads in favour of timeless melodies and fine songwriting, leading indie music bible The Quietus to call him “a songwriter with a propensity for wildly infectious hooks and choruses that burrow into your brain with no intention of leaving.”
One thing is for sure, since 2014’s debut Leafy Stiletto, 2018’s Frankly, I Mutuate, and 2020’s The Hill, Paddy has been basking in the light of something quite pure, and perhaps unexpected from someone who has previously been influenced by darker subject matter—love.
“Everything about this new record is borne out of love, which is the first time I can say that,” he says. “During the pandemic, I got engaged and married. The album was recorded while there was a baby in my wife’s belly. Everyone who worked on the album, I have the greatest affection for. It was just a lovely experience. It was love on top of love. The album, thematically, is about letting go of things.”
Album opener ‘Look For Tomorrow,’ with its bright strums of guitar and Paddy’s impressive falsetto, certainly embodies this sentiment of moving on from the past. The song ends on a bombastic note, buoyed by brass fanfare; it’s a watershed moment to prepare us for the rest of Imagine I’m Hoping.
‘A Dancer’ follows with indie fervour: furiously cascading piano, sleigh bells on the chorus, and an ebullience that propels you to the dancefloor. Paddy’s delivery is whisper-soft on the classic pop tune ‘New York Sidewalk,’ made with the help of frequent collaborator Daniel Fox (Gilla Band).
“The whole crux of ‘New York Sidewalk’ is that things in life that happen that can be bad can become funny in later life, you know,” he explains. “So, like, going to New York and trying to make a name for yourself out there, but instead making a tit out of yourself. But then the song ends looking back in a bit of a Hemingway situation, where you’re telling the story to someone and it’s like ‘It made you laugh, saw you smiling, that’ll do.’ See what I mean? It’s about not being a victim to the past anymore.”
Despite Paddy’s more summery sound on Imagine I’m Hoping, he is still deeply influenced by horror movies and all things macabre.
“When people think of music inspired by horror they think of White Zombie or something like that,” Hanna says. “Or a music video where a shaky camera goes down a corridor and zooms in on a doll with no eyes—it’s so cheesy. Most of the best horror soundtracks are, like, Rosemary’s Baby or Enninio Morricone on The Thing; the most terrifying soundtracks are often the prettiest. It’s all about contrast.”
The record as a whole is cinematic; ‘Say Goodbye’ and ‘Yellow Buffalo’ would be right at home in a modern Western, thrumming with harmonica and rattling, Americana-inspired percussion. The jazzy ‘Symphony Bacalao’ is positively vaudevillian, and Paddy shows off his unexpected sense of humour here, declaring, “Oh, what a shit show!”
Rollicking single ‘Yoko Ono’ is accompanied by an appropriately colourful and bizarre music video featuring a surreal talent show and Paddy himself, of course. Directed and edited by Alex Lynch (who’s previously worked on videos for SOAK, Irish Women in Harmony, and more) and Liam Farrell, the video proves just as playful as the song itself.
Paddy says: "I feel the directors and crew captured the fear, anxiety and joyful absurdity of a performer's life. Perhaps the most concerning part is that despite the video's peculiarities, it mirrors reality to an almost uncomfortable degree."
“The song started as an improvised rap about Mike love from The Beach Boys, and over time it mutated into a cheerful bop about an identity crisis. There isn’t a day where I don’t feel like an imposter, so why not write a catchy tune about it,” he shares.
The much-anticipated follow-up to 2020’s The Hill, this new record has already gained early acclaim with lead single ‘New York Sidewalk’ proving one jangly, jovial chord at a time that it is possible to climb the radio charts with a song that as far from generic as they come. Nialler9 wrote that it “bursts with shimmering piano notes, parps of brass and gorgeous backing” and Stereogum speculating that the “wistful, lush song, all plinking piano and cooing background vocals” may be signalling a new direction for Hanna.
With a new, more optimistic Paddy Hanna now in the driving seat, 2022 may well be the year that this idiosyncratic underdog rises up to take his rightful place centre-stage.