Take the Submarine(s) to The Eleanor Islands
Starting out on your own is never easy, especially when you’re leaving a lot behind. For Blake Hazard, this is doubly true for her love life and her music, which have been inseparably linked since she and her husband John Dragonetti formed the band The Submarines in 2006. With her first solo album since 2002, The Eleanor Islands is Hazard’s musical separation.
With Islands, Hazard shows she moving on. The first track, “Padanaram,” (the small town on Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, where she wrote the album) says good-bye to her old life with “one part joy and two parts suffering.” Her ship is sailing to uncharted waters where the bottom of the ocean is a potential destination, in a somewhat tired use of the metaphor. It’s a simple, sad, folksy number with changing rhythms and swirling synthesizers that belie the torrent of emotions she must be feeling. The song fades quickly, as if first trying to push the troubadour further into unknown waters, but finally letting her float off on her own.
Other slower, more eclectic tracks include “Photograph,” “Deliberate Plans” and “Your Door,” which feature Hazard at her best. “Your Door” is especially powerful and emotional, stripped down to just her and her guitar. In other tracks like “Weekends” and “Energy and Consequences,” when the band is in and it’s time to rock, the tracks leave something to be desired. Hazard’s voice is great, but seems more comfortable in Joni Mitchell territory. When the tempo is up and it’s time for a shout chorus, one is left wondering if Hazard means what she is singing? Double-tracking the lead vocal in these situations does not solve the problem.
Blake Hazard is a very talented singer and has some good tracks on The Eleanor Islands. But the album in its entirety leaves you wanting more-– more emotion, more power, more authenticity. Check it out, but buy a few singles and wait for her next issue.