Hannam writes honest, direct songs and is an effective live perfomer. Unfortunately, his new album isn't the best evidence of his talents.
John Wort Hannam is a Canadian songwriter who just seven years ago quit his teaching job for the life of a full-time troubadour and has spent the aughties recording collections of his easy-does-it roots songs and winning a string of songwriting competitions. There are highlights on Queen's Hotel, Hannam's fourth full-length, particularly the placid “Come Back to Me” -- you can't mistake the heartache in “Goddamn I miss you more than ever tonight." That kind of tough talk is typical in Hannam's tales of drinking, labor strikes, and love gone wrong, although the music is routinely safe and relatively nondescript acoustic folk. Moreover, there's a sameness to nearly every song here, and although Hannam keeps up a good fight in the hardscrabble lives at the heart of his songs, he bogs down Queen's Hotel with unmemorable melodic structures and the merciless nasal edge found in his voice.