Rookie in the Ring

There's something fresh about Hanna Rae, despite her music treading familiar territory. Singer-songwriter pop-country isn't exactly a new phenomenon, but Rae injects the five songs on Rookie in the Ring with loads of power and creativity. Relationships are the focus—particularly on the stripped-down piano opener “Man in the Moon”—and throughout the album, Rae's penchant for clever lyrics kicks the material up a notch. On the bluegrass-tinged “Alabama” she employs a number of creative similes—“like a Rubik's cube with no solution/or the planets without revolution”—as a means of calling out someone's emotionally stunted nature. And when she drops lines like “your left hook of love came out of nowhere and knocked me out” on the title track, the image leaves a mark. Rae's molasses-thick drawl provides an earthy foundation that grounds the album's most pie-in-the-sky moment, the Americana/pop tune “Jar of Wine” (which sounds incredibly similar to Brooke Annibale's “Under Streetlights”). It's tough trying to write something new in the realm of love songs, but for the most part Rae succeeds. She's an under-the-radar artist to keep an eye on.