Paul Hannan and Louise O’Reilly became friends in a rambling, old, falling-down share-house in Brisbane’s West End. Many moons later they reconnected in Melbourne. Both came from different musical backgrounds: Hannan had been the front man of numerous prominent Brisbane bands; O’Reilly revealed a guitar and voice that she’d wrought together during an extended stay in Cape York. But they bonded over a crossing of eclectic folk and country traditions – their album collections became one – and they started playing songs together. As Laneway, the pair’s enviable and relaxed attention to old and new combines a love of harmony, a touch of psychedelia and a pop sensibility.
Imagine Lindsey Buckingham and Gillian Welch meeting in a downtown pool hall, setting off on a road trip and stopping only for tea, oranges, creek swims and tequila; Laneway is a journey of two guitars and voices heading out country that has an immediate familiarity that jumps out at you on first listen, before the incredible depth of songwriting sinks in.
Their debut album, If You Don’t Need It Let It Go, has been received with a warm and rippling response. Formerly an acoustic harmony-based duo, O’Reilly and Hannan expanded their sound for their first record. Recorded at Head Gap in Melbourne with Brent Punshon, Laneway was joined in the studio by some dear and talented friends, Tom Butts (True Live) and Fingers Malone (The Fingers Malone Ensemble, Sex Fox Six).
The songwriting talents of the duo were recognised this year when O’Reilly and Hannan were shortlisted for Queensland’s most prestigious songwriting award, The Grant McLennan Memorial Fellowship. But is it live where Laneway shines. Both O’Reilly and Hannan have a strong resonance with the old folk tradition that songs deserve to be played and indeed need to be played live. Laneway are establishing a diverse and growing fanbase. O’Reilly and Hannan’s live-to-air performances on TV and radio stations have reached out to listeners across the airwaves. They are most keen to share their sound with listeners in the flesh, and a Laneway show in either full band or duo arrangement is not to be missed.
Catch Laneway at the SoundLounge on Friday.