Hannah Blackburn
Hannah Blackburn | Credit: Rolling On Film

Track by Track: Hannah Blackburn Breaks Down Her Spare and Intimate Debut Album ‘I Want to Love You’

Hannah Blackburn spent more than three years working on her debut album, I Want to Love You. Though, given the stark intimacy that defines the record, its gestation period likely stretches back many years further. Blackburn says that each song on the album is “a story of a different relationship, not always romantic.”

It’s a gentle and often sparsely arranged record, with Blackburn’s confidential vocal tenor and candid lyrics the centre of attention throughout. Here, Blackburn takes us through the album one track at a time, sharing details of the sparks of inspiration and lived experiences that lie at the root of I Want to Love You.

Hannah Blackburn: I Want to Love You

Content warning: this article discusses sexual assault

1. I Want to Love You

Hannah Blackburn: ‘I Want to Love You’ was written as a love song for someone I wanted to be closer to, but couldn’t because of my own barriers. I was trying to go inwards by writing to understand what was happening for me. Years later, I realised that ‘I Want to Love You’ is actually a love letter to myself, and the more I was able to connect with myself, the more I could also connect with others.

2. That Night

Hannah: This song is a recount of the moments I discovered the person I was seeing wasn’t good for me. It’s an ode to the women that are conditionally loved only if they don’t talk too much, don’t have too many opinions, don’t make any mistakes and don’t take up too much space.

3. Elvis Presley

Hannah: This song is a song about grief for a chapter in my life that was forced to close. It’s called ‘Elvis Presley’ as Presley’s song ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ was the closing song at The Tote, which is where I often found myself when I was avoiding real life.

4. Ask Me to Leave

Hannah: I wrote ‘Ask Me to Leave’ on the floor in my bedroom. I’d just learnt this new picking pattern on guitar and was practising while processing the relationship pattern I’d seemed to really nail. This song is about multiple relationships, woven together with the theme of dating emotionally unavailable people.

5. Egg Song

Hannah: I wrote this song in the winter of a break-up. I felt the only way through it was to write it all out of me. My heart was totally broken, and every morning I woke up and couldn’t feel the warmth of that person next to me anymore. It was difficult to get up and eat alone, or wash my car alone, and it was made worse by the fresh memory of them there.

Hannah Blackburn – ‘Egg Song’

6. In Our Wires

Hannah: ‘In Our Wires’ was a stream of consciousness song. I was starting to reflect on the importance of being a woman in a heteronormative relationship. What our exchange is, what we both value in each other, what sacrifices we make for a very simple and primal thing.

7. Too Easy To Hate

Hannah: This song is about sexual assault. During and after trauma, it’s hard to be creative, and I was trying my hardest to get back into writing songs. I did some research and found an article about how women who go through this don’t want to share with people closest to them in order to protect the ones they love from that pain. This song started as a conversation to share that story, and in turn was the catalyst for writing again.

8. Soil

Hannah: This is a sisterhood song. After conversations with many women, the general consensus is we all feel unsafe in most places, and when terrible things happen, we all seem to stand up, dust ourselves off, grieve, shed some skin, and move forward.

We have a strong network and can lift each other up to keep going. Something I have taken away from this is when I’d like to go underground for a while and take a break, the world keeps moving, and the people who love me are waiting for me when I am ready to come back.

9. Piano

Hannah: I decided to put a break in the album here for those listening the whole way through. I am not originally a piano player, which is why I chose to try and take the chords from ‘Soil’ and make a little instrumental interlude, just to take a breath. There are lots of lyrics and stories on this album, and after the pause comes the next chapter of my life, the final song, ‘Ugly’. 

10. Ugly

Hannah: I wrote ‘Ugly’ about three months into a new relationship. This was after a while of not being able to let love in, and I felt excruciatingly vulnerable, a very specific type of ugly.

Hannah Blackburn – ‘Elvis Presley’

Hannah Blackburn’s debut album I Want to Love You is out now.

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