There are days you thought you might never see.
This is one of them.
About three years ago, Ethan Hanna played a fairly unremarkable gig in Belfast. First on, with the worst slot of the night and supporting two more established acts, he was up against it.
Tin Man Heart was there, before Tin Man Heart was a thing. But Ethan impressed.
Over the course of the next year or two we met regularly at gigs run by Ronnie Purvis, a fantastic promoter of Northern Irish acoustic acts. Whether it was The Empire, The Lansdowne or anywhere else, Ethan’s music always struck home. The sincerity of the lyrics, the simplicity of the melody and the sheer torment the man can communicate with just his voice.
Eventually hearing Ethan say he was “working on an album” without seeing any evidence of that became a bit of a frustration. Welcome To The Batlands was an album missing from our collection. We wanted it in the car, on the headphones on the way to work, play listed in the office, or even on the radio.
So, around October 2017, we approached Ethan about helping out a little and getting things on the road. It was this step that not only encouraged Ethan to get the album done, but encouraged us to take Tin Man Heart forward as a label, management team and PR service.
This has been a long year, but finally Welcome To The Batlands is ready for you to listen to. There have been long days and nights in studios, remix after remix, master after master, artwork edits (which are still happening) and more than a few minor panics, but the day we thought we might never see is today.
Over the past few months, we have been touring with Ethan, working closely to perfect the songs in studio and on stage and it’s been brilliant. We’ve seen how seriously and passionately he approaches music. Right down the the last note and word of every song, Ethan pours his heart into it and we believe that comes across perfectly on the record. We hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we have enjoyed making it.
On a final note, to those who have supported Ethan and Tin Man Heart with preorders of CDs, tshirts and gig tickets, we offer a most sincere thanks. Without your support and encouragement the entire process would have been that little bit more difficult.
For anyone who would like to support us still, the album can be bought digitally or physically on Bandcamp here. Buying direct from us rather than streaming or through an online store is the most effective way of supporting Tin Man Heart and our artists, Ethan Hanna and Sonja Sleator.
Finally, a thanks to Michael Mormecha at Millbank Studios who expertly produced the album, bringing Ethan’s ideas to reality. Vic Bronzini Fulton at Earthmusic NI for mastering, practice space and general encouragement when things were getting edgy. Ethan’s band, Stevey (bass), DK (drums) and Sonja (harmonies & common sense) who have brought what’s been recorded to life on stage. Clair, Evan and Keith who have contributed their talents with artwork and photography.
And last but not least, to Ethan, who wrote songs we simply couldn’t be without.
You can listen to the full album here, but we have highlighted our top three moments below:
Perfect was probably among the first songs we heard and it immediately had us hooked. The influence of Springsteen and Gaslight Anthem was prominent, but Ethan still has his own voice. Hearing Perfect transform from Ethan’s solo acoustic sets to a full band setting was a hugely enjoyable part of the process. It was among the first songs finished, giving us a feel for the album’s direction, and when it was released as a single achieved airplay all over the world.
The beauty of Passenger Seat lies in its simplicity. The image evoked of the hopeful romantic saving the passenger seat for his sweetheart. The first time we heard Passenger Seat it grabbed us around the (Tin Man) heart and pulled. Hard. Michael Mormecha’s bluesy piano and Ethan’s voice transport this tune into the setting of a smokey bar with an upright piano and a fair splashing of whiskey. “The passenger seat’s here waiting for you, babe. I hope you use it.” It could be the best one minute forty-five seconds of your day.
Possibly the most tongue in cheek track on the album, but among the most fun to play live. Fire is the age old battle between boyfriend and girlfriend’s parents. The unwanted influence who just can’t stay away. Fuelled equally by teenage angst and pure romanticism, Fire burns itself into your ears and will have you humming all day. Watch out for the high bendies near the end too…