Hannah Connolly is a singer-songwriter originally from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, now living in Los Angeles, California. Her debut album From Where You Are was released in 2020, soon to be followed by her forthcoming second record, Shadowboxing.
Connolly writes the kind of thoughtful, image-rich music that evokes a moment in time, capturing vivid snapshots, many from her own life, with such precision they feel — perhaps paradoxically — universal. From Where You Are draws heavily from the loss of Connolly’s younger brother Cullen, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2015.
A prolific writer, Connolly regularly journals, writes poetry and, of course, writes songs, ever honing her already crystalline view of the world around her. Pieces of From Where You Are come from some of those writing exercises, and the record grew to become an immersive, deeply moving meditation on how profound loss and its ensuing grief irrevocably change who
we are and who we will become.
Photo by Jacob Boll
In some ways, Shadowboxing picks up where From Where You Are left off, confronting the grief that Connolly still carries. These songs, though, are lighter both sonically and thematically, and written from the kind of open, compassionate perspective that only healing from such trauma can bring.
Connolly began work on Shadowboxing in late 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Connolly and her collaborators to work and write remotely, and Zoom sessions became the norm. While that new method of songwriting took some getting used to, Connolly found that the quiet and solitude afforded by being home during the pandemic gave her a place of spaciousness from which to write. She wrote many of the songs with Jordan Ruiz, who produced From Where You Are.
“I had a lot of lyrics piling up. In order to have some more time to write, I took off work for three days,” she says. “I literally pretended like I was going into the studio, but it was actually the extra bedroom where my partner and I had recording equipment set up. We wrote almost three songs a day for a few days straight over Zoom. which was really fun. All of the sudden it was like, ‘Wow, there’s so much here.’”
She and Ruiz finished those sessions with nine new songs in the can, many of which appear on Shadowboxing. After a few more sessions in the ensuing months, Connolly had over 30 tracks to choose from, a testament to her prolificacy. Alongside a group of close friends, she traveled to Idyllwild, CA, to record what would become Shadowboxing.
“It’s a forest town outside of L.A.,” she says. “At the top of the mountain range that creates the
valley in Palm Springs, the Joshua Tree area, there’s this little mountain town and it’s really sweet. There are big pine trees and log cabins and local restaurants — it feels like it’s untouched, almost.”
A friend of Connolly’s, Jon O’Brien, was building a studio in Idyllwild and, having worked on
From Where You Are, he was a natural fit to contribute to Shadowboxing. Connolly stayed in a
bunkhouse next door to the studio, which she describes as, “away from everything, like a little
artist’s retreat while you record.”
Recording was a community-driven effort, as several friends Connolly has made performing in
Los Angeles over the years played on the record. Players include Ruiz, Ben Greenberg, Eric
Cannata and O’Brien, with additional contributions coming later from Dan Bailey, Via Mardot, and Adam Bradley Schreiber.
Shadowboxing’s first single, Reno, will be released on Friday, June 23rd. Mixing indie rock with classic Americana elements the track is a driving love song, with a nod to the romance of flight. The song is is warm and hopeful, building from reflective to cinematic with a final chorus that feels like a plan descending onto the tarmac. Additional songs from Shadowboxing will continue to be released throughout the year.
With nearly half her life spent as a songwriter, Connolly is unusually seasoned, thanks both to
her natural gift for turning life’s more important moments — the good ones and the tough
ones— into song and to the experiences that shaped the person she is. Shadowboxing is the
work of an astute observer of the human condition, one who no doubt will have many more
stories to share for years to come.
"Hannah Connolly is a breath of fresh air for the Folk/Country scene showing off her graceful vocals and uplifting music, acting as a resurgence for classic country twang and great storytelling."- American Songwriter
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