Sorry to keep being the bearer of obituaries, but we just got word that singer-songwriter Jeff Hanson was found dead in his apartment Friday, the apparent result of a fall. He was 31.
All Songs Considered producer Robin Hilton placed Hanson's third album, Madam Owl, at #3 on his list of 2008's "Top 10 Great Unknowns." Hanson's music was showcased on All Songs Considered and Second Stage during the same year, but he's been been making music for a lot longer than that, building a modest but loyal worldwide following in a career spanning nearly 20 years. (Hanson got his start in the Milwaukee emo-pop band M.I.J., releasing several albums with the group before going solo.)
In December, Robin wrote, "The 12 pop symphonies on Madam Owl resonate with tremendous emotional depth, making Hanson one of the year's most memorable singer-songwriters in a crowded field." A large part of what made Hanson's singing voice stand out was how eerily androgynous it was -- if anything, it wasn't so much androgynous as definitively feminine. His albums (Son, Jeff Hanson and Madam Owl) consistently bring to mind a female Elliott Smith, with all the feathery beauty and delicacy that implies.
For those unfamiliar with Jeff Hanson, please take a few minutes to soak up some of his lovely music. Here's hoping more people feel moved to seek out his sweet songs in the wake of his death.
"This Time It Will"
"If Only I Knew"