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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.


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 moving through such loss can bring.


Connolly began work on Shadowboxing in late 2020. The pandemic forced Connolly and her collaborators to work and write remotely, and video 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 time to write, I took off work for three days,” she says. “I imagined as though 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 which was really fun."

She and Ruiz finished those sessions with nine new songs, 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 beautiful. There are big pine trees and log cabins and local restaurants — it feels almost untouched.”


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.”


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. 


The band recorded live in the studio, adding a sense of immediacy to the songs on Shadowboxing. “We were able to do so much with that group live, which was really fun,” she says. “It was the first time that I had recorded in that way. It was exciting because you can hear everything at once and there’s a lot of energy in the room at the same time.”


Shadowboxing opens with “Stuck in Place,” which considers the difficulty of staying in the

present moment. Percussive guitar leads into a heartland rock groove, with Connolly’s vocal recalling Margo Price or Stevie Nicks. “There’s so much pressure sometimes to see things very linearly, like we should always be moving forward or progressing in some way in our life, work and relationships” Connolly says of “Stuck in Place”. “This song pushes back on that idea and is about appreciating where you are at the time without worrying about what comes next.”


“Reno,” which pairs a driving instrumental with one of Connolly’s more emotional vocals, chronicles relationship uncertainty, pinpointing the moments of tension and miscommunication that so often occur early in a romantic relationship. 


Other highlights include the title track, whose lyrics came to Connolly almost fully formed, though she wasn’t initially sure what they meant. “Every time I sing it, it’s alive and could show me more,” she says. “Golden” pairs acoustic guitar with pedal steel for a twangier feel, with lyrics that encourage listeners to look within for the answers they are seeking.


Connolly, the oldest of three children, has been writing songs since she was a young teenager, a practice she attributes to her love for artists like Patty Griffin — Griffin’s “Rain,” in particular, is a touchstone for Connolly, as her godfather once introduced her to the acclaimed songwriter’s work with a custom-made mix CD when Connolly was younger. Her father, too, is artistic, channeling his talents into sculpting and painting, finding time for his passions in between shifts driving for UPS. Connolly credits her father, who has since retired and plays the guitar and bagpipes (he played the latter on From Where You Are track “Cullen Bay,” in honor of his late son), with introducing her to artists like Tracy Chapman and the Talking Heads, while her mom shared Sheryl Crow and Shania Twain.


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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