Upstart Country Songstress Hannah Ellis Raises The Bar With New Album “That Girl” 

When the technicalities are off the table and we’re talking about melodic power exclusively, Hannah Ellis doesn’t need much to sound like a truly divine force in performance, but next to the jubilant  instrumental harmonies of “Wine Country,” she sounds even more provocative than she already would. In her first full-length album That Girl, this dedicated country singer is pulling out all the stops to show her audience that she has what it takes to bring Nashville into a new era, and going off of the magic she brings to the table in songs like “Country Can” and “Replaceable.” I would have to say she’s on the right track. This is one of the most exciting generations of singer/songwriters to come into focus in a long time, and Ellis proves to have quite the role to play among the best in or outside of her scene in this hot 2024 release. 

The arrangement isn’t the only solid friend this artist has in That Girl; to me, there’s nothing quite like the evocative melodic foundations in “Karma on the Rocks,” “Still,” “Home and a Hometown,” and the particularly striking “Somebody Else.” Ellis works the backdrop for everything it’s worth on every occasion she gets here, and although I think she does well with any style of instrumentation offered in this record, I do find her more minimalistic arrangements to be some of the most complimentary of her vocal style. She doesn’t need synthetics, but instead, a stage where she can croon without anything to come between her words and the audience she wrote them for. 

There isn’t any sign of hesitance in Ellis’ voice when she steps up to the plate for the title track, “Still,” “Us,” and “One of These Days,” and I like that she isn’t intimidated by balladry when it comes to maintaining a swaggering attitude. One of the biggest struggles that artists in this genre face is warring with their ego, which more often than not produces a lacking narrative no matter what the tone or tempo of a song or album happens to be, but this isn’t an issue I see her running into. She’s got the confidence to say anything she wants in That Girl, and that’s something I wish I could say for her contemporaries in country’s mainstream today. 

Hannah Ellis has grown a lot since making her official debut, and whether you were a fan of her first EP or are just now getting into her sound through the slew of popular singles she released in 2023, That Girl should be on your list of must-hear Americana-influenced records hitting store shelves this season. Her voice is raising the bar for both her future output as well as that of the other singers trying to make a name for themselves in the mainstream (and underground for that matter), and when it’s given room to own the spotlight in songs like “Too Much & Not Enough” and “Home and a Hometown,” it’s awfully hard to resist. 

Anne Hollister