Artist: Hannah Thomas
Carrie Underwood has been having another moment. For the last year or so, she's been a pop-cultural force, retaking the American Idol relevance both the show and she had in 2005. Whether it was replacing Faith Hill on Sunday Night Football, or updating Julie Andrews' Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music Live!, Underwood regained pop icon status, becoming “People's Champ” via Billboard's fan-voted Milestone Award, and receiving the Academy of Country Music's Gene Weed Special Achievement Award, given to The Voice's Blake Sheltons of the world.
All of that is to say that the world is now ready for Georgia's Hannah Thomas. Check out “That's What She Said.” Hannah has that same “badass country chick” vocal phrasing as Carrie had on “Before He Cheats.” But Carrie is what you listen to if Garth Brooks did it for you; Hannah is what you're rocking after switching from Garth to the Highwaymen of Waylon & Willie, Cash & Kris. (By the way, if anyone can muscle his way onto that Mount Rushmore, it would be “Bocephus” Hank Jr. – Beam bottle in hand.) Simply put, Hannah Thomas is the rebel version of Carrie Underwood.
Like Underwood though, Hannah gladly traffics in the finest of country music traditions. This is primarily heard in Hannah's fierceness, which has ruled the country airwaves since Reba McEntire. But Hannah also displays two additional attributes, in just one song (“Watch Out for the Deer”). The first is rapid-fire vocal delivery, which has entertained us on such hits as Clint Black's “Tuckered Out,” Sawyer Brown's “The Race is On,” Patty Loveless' “I Try to Think About Elvis,” and to a lesser extent on Alan Jackson's “I Don't Even Know Your Name” and Collin Raye's cover of Johnny Cash's “Big River.” The other of country music's standout signifiers is a winning mixture of country partying with a flash of humor. Hannah is “sippin' on a Bud in a pickup truck” and singing Hank lyrics with the radio up [country party]; but while all-comers are welcome to the party, all-goers should definitely watch out for the deer on the way home [humor]. In this regard, Hannah's “Deer” is the latest in a long line of country hits like Chris LeDoux's “Cadillac Ranch,” Tracy Byrd's “Watermelon Crawl,” Alan Jackson's “Chattahoochee,” and Hal Ketchum's “Small Town Saturday Night.”
Even as Carrie Underwood tasks her songwriting teams with going platinum by keeping it universal (keying cheaters' cars), Hannah is staying true to her Georgia roots. We all could use a bit of that right now.
*** The author of this review, James Smith, plays the agung a tamlang for the following band: http://youtu.be/tMS73-1kCr8