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King Hannah Announce New Album “Big Swimmer” Out 31st May via City Slang & Shares Title Track With Special Guest Sharon Van Etten + UK Tour Announced

March 6, 2024
Credit Katie Silvester

King Hannah Announce Big Swimmer, New Album Out 31st May via City Slang

Listen To The Title-Track (w/ Special Guest Sharon Van Etten)

UK & EU Tour Announced for September 2024 + The Great Escape, End Of The Road Festival Appearances

Liverpool duo King Hannah (Hannah Merrick and Craig Whittle) are excited to announce Big Swimmer, due for release on 31st May via City Slang. The record was produced by Ali Chant (PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding, Perfume Genius) and finds wide-screen inspiration from the band’s time on the road over the past few years across the US, with stints supporting Kurt Vile and Thurston Moore.

Today’s announcement is accompanied by the stunning album opener and title-track, featuring special guest vocals from Sharon Van Etten, who the band connected with when Van Etten posted about their debut single ‘Crème Brûlée’. The track opens with a starkly vulnerable vocal, Van Etten and Merrick’s voices effortlessly intertwined, gently unravelling the song’s gut-punching message – life is really what you make of it.  The second part of the song warms to a rich, rolling ‘70’s American folk rock influenced gem, marrying darkness with light and carrying home the final message of ‘Big Swimmer’ – never stop swimming.

Vocalist Hannah Merrick has to say on the song –

“I remember sitting at my desk and the song just came pouring out and the big swimmer metaphor instantly felt right; to never give up on whatever it is you’re swimming hard towards. But I like that it questions the listener too, that whenever you’re faced with something challenging, do you carry on swimming or do you jump out and grab our towel? There’s no right answer, but it feels empowering and necessary for the record.

Filmed in a local sports hall, the accompanying visual features Hannah walking around an empty space in a red flamenco dress against ocean blue walls. By the time th second half of the song hits she has arrived to her band, waiting for her at the other end of the hall and consisting of two small children on guitars and Craig playing a tiny drum kit. Looking like it was shot on 16mm, the video takes inspiration from the look and feel of Craig’s favourite films from the American new wave of the late 60s and 70s.

The gentle acoustic notes play in, immediately setting up this gentle flow and rhythmic movement and then the sublime vocal tones from Merrick emerge, soaring high above the softer strums. Merrick’s presence is something else, the vocal range consumes you, heartfelt, sincere and striking. Hanging onto the lyrics, a sudden shift emerges with a few bars of silence before the track bolts into the electric passages. Brighter and robust guitar tones alter the movement, the drums join and the vision expands with this mighty grandeur. The release starts to catapult itself towards this immense intensive guitar solo, Merricks harmonies joined by the legendary Van Etten cementing this warmth and further connection to the words and the world created. One things for sure, Hannah Merrick is a songwriter that resonates this almighty force.

King Hannah burst into our world in 2020 and came at a time when we needed to be moved and transported through music, oh did they deliver. What has remained the foundations of their progressive vision, is the ability to produce arrangements that capture a raw emotion, arrangements that allude intimacy whilst still carrying this striking weight.  

The band have also announced a run of UK and EU shows for September 2024. Tickets will be available here and go on sale Friday 8th March at 10am local time.

About Big Swimmer 

On their first tour of the United States, King Hannah could hardly believe where their debut record had taken them. The Liverpool indie rock duo, composed of Hannah Merrick and Craig Whittle, were in the middle of the southwestern deserts of New Mexico, among other places they’d only seen portrayed in films and television. Their stubborn determination and sheer guts to swim hard towards their carefully planned vision, positively unquestionably, had landed them head-first in a scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidBadlands or one of the several true crime documentaries they’d enjoy when off the road. Being in a new place opened their eyes to common occurrences that they may have ignored had they happened in Liverpool, with a new perspective. Much of the band’s second record, Big Swimmer, reflects on stories from their travels, as the duo shared the stage with Kurt Vile, Thurston Moore, and festivals throughout Europe and North America. Particularly in America, Merrick and Whittle found themselves looking through their tour van window as a sort of screen, allowing for inspiration for their storytelling to come pouring in.

“Because if you’re visiting a different country, it’s more like you’re witnessing someone’s life,” Merrick comments on the band’s experiences on the road in the States. Therein a balance of lightness and darkness melded together, as the band witnessed everyday delights, horrors and mundanities – this all against the backdrop of their dreams of performing their songs around the world coming true. That balance is essential to Hannah and Craig, especially as they approach each release as an individual project, writing songs together from scratch. This can be heard in equal parts on their first EP, Tell Me Your Mind And I’ll Tell You Mine, and debut album I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me, out in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

Coincidentally, the title track and album opener, “Big Swimmer,” was the final song written before heading from the road into the studio to record their follow up, standing as a physical testament to the album’s ultimate metaphor like a punch to the gut; that you don’t achieve anything by throwing the towel in. “Big Swimmer” is one of two tracks on the album to feature vocals from indie stalwart Sharon Van Etten. Having a cherished hero offer her endorsement and co-sign to this rising band’s music truly moved the duo, especially to be featured on the album title track that embodies the balance struck when chasing creative visions.

Wanting to capture the energy from the live shows of their debut tours, Merrick and Whittle went to producer and engineer Ali Chant (Aldous Harding, PJ Harvey, Perfume Genius). The producer’s one-room studio, guitar amps stacked even in the bathroom, felt like home. Tracking the songs live at once was essential. Whittle dotes on the microphone bleed, saying the goal was to create that feeling of everyone playing in a room together. In this space, they blended the richness and heart of the 70’s with the simmering noise of the 90’s.

Big Swimmer finds King Hannah on the other side of their first act with a newfound understanding of their sound, their strengths, their gratitude, and their vision for the future of the band’s music. This understanding has no doubt ushered the profound confidence heard in their new songs – Merrick’s voice soaring, Whittle’s guitar blazing – and the balance they have found while traversing the waters of the Atlantic, or the rock venues on either side of it anyhow.The album leaves your hairs standing on the back of your neck, between the at times prickly, and often heartening imagery of its storytelling. It’s very likely that when listening, you’ll find yourself daydreaming of a lake in summer and wanting to jump on in.

King Hannah – Big Swimmer Tour (2024) 

May 15 – 18 – The Great Escape: Brighton (UK)

August 30 – End of the Road: Dorset (UK) 

September 5 – Lido: Berlin (DE)

September 9 – Paradiso: Amsterdam (NL)

September 12 – La Maroquinerie: Paris (FR)

September 13 – AB Club: Brussels (BE)

September 25 – Rich Mix: London (UK)

Big Swimmer Track-Listing

1.     Big Swimmer *

2.     New York, Let’s Do Nothing

3.     The Mattress

4.     Milk Boy (I Love You)

5.     Suddenly, Your Hand

6.     Somewhere Near El Paso

7.     Lily Pad

8.     Davey Says

9.     Scully

10.  This Wasn’t Intentional *

11.  John Prine On The Radio

* Special Guest Sharon Van Etten



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