Things Jeff Hanson has in common with Elliott Smith: He's signed to Kill Rock Stars. He makes lo-fi recordings with a wispy falsetto that, at times, is a dead ringer for the spindly vocal stylings of the late, great E.S. His facial structure is similar to Elliott's. And his third full-length album, Madam Owl, is a masterpiece that will surely put Hanson on the map, sorta like Smith's third record, Either/Or, did.
Things Jeff Hanson does not have in common with Elliott Smith: He lives in St. Paul, while Smith lived in Portland. His voice is very high, and resembles Death Vessel bard Joel Thibodeau's vocals, or, for those who aren't familiar with Death Vessel, a pre-teen girl (it's not a bad thing). Hanson does not seem depressed, if we're measuring by the music he creates; most of his songs are bright, happy numbers, many of which are augmented by a cheerfully-plucked banjo. Even the sad songs seem more hopeful than the most despondent of Elliott Smith's. And Hanson does not, so far as we know, have a drug problem.
Comparisons aside, the Elliott Smith fans who still mourn his loss might find solace in Jeff Hanson's hopeful folk renderings. Here's hoping Hanson's a well-adjusted teetotaler...
Mon., Sept. 15, 8 p.m., 2008