Hannah Wicklund: The Prize Review

Much like the package delivered by Tom Hanks’ character in Castaway, Hannah Wicklund’s The Prize would sit undelivered for over four years with the final song written in 2019. The Prize delivers a dark yet empowering tale of Hannah’s transition into womanhood, realizing harsh realities and the transformative introspections that they bring about. The Prize was released on Strawberry Moon records, Hannah’s label which also released her previous album. Hannah is a true independent artist. If anyone knows the struggles of dealing with the music business, Wicklund is certainly qualified.

Hannah was born to be an artist. Her father is a musician and mother a visual artist. She has an older brother that plays in a band called the High Divers. Her mother painted the artwork for her last album, 2018’s Hannah Wicklund and the Steppin Stones. Also, an accomplished visual artist, Hannah did the artwork for The Prize and is in the process of crafting pieces to accompany each track. She formed a band in 2006 at eight (yes eight) and began playing local festivals and venues in her native Hilton Head, South Carolina. Her vocal range and sizzling guitar solos quickly caught on and she soon found herself sharing the stage with more prominent national acts, at festivals around the country, and played at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads festival last year.

Produced by Greta Van Fleet’s Sam Kiszka, The Prize marks Hannah’s first album appearance without reference to ‘The Steppin Stones.’ The name of her band before bringing her name to the forefront. The transformation to just ‘Hannah Wicklund’ is likely another marker of Wicklund’s transformation within this project. Kiszka also plays bass, piano, and keys with Greta Van Fleet band mate Danny Wagner on drums. There is a definitive maturity compared to her earlier works along with her range from hard rockers like “Hide and Seek” to ballads like “Songbird Sing.”

The Prize is an introspective work as Wicklund bares her innermost emotional turmoil as she progresses into adulthood but also tackles the struggles of bringing her talents to prominence. Despite being a personal reflection, there is a lot of relatable content. From the humorous tale of her first encounter with alcohol in “Can’t Get Enough” to dealing with a partner’s personal demons in “Dark Passenger.” Within these tales of heartbreak and struggle there’s definitely a theme of self-reckoning and empowerment. “Witness,” “Intervention” and the aforementioned “Dark Passenger” all carry a strong message with statements like ‘I’m embracing the heartbreak,’ ‘scared myself straight out of love’ and ‘maybe I’m betraying myself.’ She flips the script with “Hide and Seek” a view into the emotional thickness of falling for someone ‘do you want me the way I want you.’

Wicklund and Kiszka also bring a diversified bouquet of sounds with rockers “Hell in the Hallway,” “Hide and Seek,” and “Dark Passenger.” Anthemic crescendos “Witness,” “Can’t Get Enough,” and “Sun to Sun”. Things slow down with more tempered beats in “Lost Love,” “Songbird Sing,” and the title track “The Prize.”  To follow Hannah Wicklund and the Steppin Stones was going to be a tall order. Hannah has certainly accomplished it with an amazing album. The Prize is just that. Give it a listen and you win.

The Review: 9/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Songbird Sing
– Dark Passenger
– The Prize
– Hide and Seek
– Hell in the Hallway

The Big Hit

– Hell in the Hallway

Buy the album: Amazon

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