Song of the Week: Jim Hanft’s “By The Stream”

Sometimes a song just strikes me that I want to sing its praises. One such tune is “By The Stream” by Jim Hanft. I don’t know much about Hanft. Like, for example, how to pronounce his last name (is the “f” is silent or not?). I discovered his music through a link to his new album, Weddings And Funerals and it’s one of those times when I am glad that I took the link leap.  The Philadelphia native and Los Angeles resident creates music has a lovely Americana vibe that draws upon folk, pop, country and a little soul. It’s tender and lyrical but with some raw rootsy edges.

Weddings And Funerals holds a number of strong tracks, like moody “Kerosene” and “Protocol” (a terrific tale of a busted relationship), but the one that really rises above the rest, however, is “By The Stream.” It reminds me for some reason of Steve Forbert’s early hit, “Romeo’s Tune.” There’s a warm, easy-going vibe to Hanft’s way with words and melody. It starts simply and rolls gently to a punchy chorus: “I can’t believe it/the kiss you left last night/and I’m holding on so tight, tight, tight,” where he is joined vocally by his musical collaborator Samantha Yonack. Hanft nicely conveys the emotions behind the words while keeping them feeling grounded in reality.The verses include mentions of a funeral procession, which contrasts with the chorus’ declaration of love – although not in a jarring way. It all just comes together in a naturally enchanting way.

There are a number of talented young singer-songwriters out there now and it’s hard to keep track of them all but, based on his impressive work on Weddings And Funerals – particularly the excellent track “By The Stream” – Jim Hanft is one singer-songwriter who is well worth remembering.

About Michael Berick

I am a longtime writer, and lover, of music and pop culture. I have written for Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Scene and more places (that I wouldn't take up more of your time mentioning now).
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