"You were born between a rock and a hard place, to a couple of losers/ I lived on the other side of your duplex/ I heard you getting those bruises." - Travis - Jennifer Hanson-Kim Patton-Johnston.

Jennifer Hanson

Australian country music, with exceptions of Slim Dusty and the McKean Sisters, has only recently had historic family dynasties.

Most splinters from the tree never grew into skyscrapers like U.S. peers - progeny of the Williams, Cash, Carter, Tillis, Scruggs, Bare and Maines families.

Here, it was rough and rocky travelling for the Chambers, Schneiders and Kernaghans until the late nineties when they succeeded - despite radio.

In the hugely lucrative American mecca, singing spouses reaped riches pre and post divorce.

But when Jennifer Hanson, daughter of a guitarist with Alabama and the Righteous Brothers, left Los Angeles for Music City she had the genetics.

Parents Larry and Melody split when she was seven and she studied music business and recording engineering.

"It was a devastating time for me, and my mum took it pretty hard, but music was always my refuge," Hanson says, "it was always the thing I felt I excelled in and I was recognised for growing up. My dad made the move to Nashville in 1987 and I started coming to town in the early nineties. We'd try to find songs and get my voice on tape. I was 14, and this was before LeAnn Rimes, so Nashville considered me too young."

Hanson moved to Nashville in 1995, learned guitar and in 1998 signed a publishing deal with Acuff Rose.

She broke by penning nine tunes on her self-titled Capitol debut disc she co-produced at 29.

"Writing helped me figure out who I was. It is the most important part of what I do," she says, "I hope to continue that long after any career as a singer might end."


Hanson was aided by Texan guitarist Mark Nesler, whom she met in 1997 when he was playing guitar with fellow Texan Tracy Byrd, and wrote Tim McGraw hit Just To See You Smile and Darryl Worley's I Miss My Friend.

They started writing together, fell in love, wed in June of 2000 and gave birth to three songs on her album.

Hanson saw the flip side of fame as Mark's solo career stalled when Asylum folded.

"I watched as his record deal fell apart," says Hanson, "it just turned his world upside down."

Childhood memories of a schoolmate's domestic abuse inspired Travis - an anchor of the disc whose radio friendly fodder has a nice dab of soul.

Not in the same league as sibling songs by mentors Gretchen Peters, Suzanne Vega and Shawn Colvin but a dab of social comment.

The disc is kick started by debut hit Beautiful Goodbye that segues into Just One Of Those Days - reflection of a bad hair morning.

That trilogy, penned with Kim Patton-Johnston, enables her to prove she is not a one trick pony.

She reveals humorous assertion in Get Yourself Back - one of three penned with Nesler and Tony Martin - and grandmother inspired pathos in All Those Yesterdays.

Half A Heart Tattoo is a nice metaphor for a licentious Lothario who leaves a vast army of cheated conquests with a painful portrait of his broken promises.

There are vocal traces of Jo Dee Messina and Pam Tillis and even Patsy Cline - Tillis validated Hanson's writing prowess by recording It Isn't Just Raining.

"I was so proud of getting that cut," she says, "this song shows the more traditional side of me that I want people to know."

Hanson also cut Nesler-Martin song This Far Gone.

"Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton have been a huge influence on me and This Far Gone reminded me of something they might have recorded, a classic country song," Hanson said.

"I'd sing it at the Bluebird Café and it was the song people would comment about. It's songs like 'This Far Gone' that made me want to sing country music in the first place."

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