A Good Read A Good Listen and a Good Drink: Hannah Curwood, Hannah in the Wars

It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss.

In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire.


Only Wanna Be, by Hannah in the Wars, is lush, expansive and seductive, a dark siren song of longing. I fell in love with it at first listen.

It, like the rest of Hannah in the Wars’ self-titled first record, came into the world when Hannah Curwood left her native New Zealand (Central Otago, specifically) for London, in pursuit of a fresh start on life. Recorded at the home studio of Roger O’Donnell of The Cure, the record is a sharp-edged gem, and you can listen to the rest of it at their Bandcamp.

Highlights: Sweet Release, is exactly as sexy as it sounds, and on the other end of the spectrum, Watch the Dog Grow Old Together, which summarizes the grief for loss of a planned life with someone with devastating clarity and precision.

Meanwhile, I will turn the floor over to Ms. Curwood, who joins us today to tell us about one of her favorite books, songs, and drinks.


Hannah Curwood, center, of Hannah in the Wars

Hannah Curwood, center, of Hannah in the Wars

A Good Read:

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward. One of the most savagely beautiful books I have ever read, set in the wild woods near the small Mississippi town of Bois Sauvage in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina. The story follows a young girl, Esche, and her siblings living in abject poverty with an alcoholic father and very little adult supervision. The one bright light in the children’s lives is their fighting pit-bull, a pure white dog named China. The juxtaposition of the children’s love for their dog and the terrible violence of the dog-fight scenes set against the lurking menace of the hurricane is horrifying, tear jerking and masterful. I can’t recommend it enough.

A Good Listen:

Time and time again I always return to Judee Sill. She was a tragic character, a thief, drug addict and prostitute who died young of an overdose and left behind the most incredible body of work. This song The Kiss never fails to give me goosebumps. Her voice is so intense, pure and unaffected and the harmonic changes are outrageous, it’s as if a whole symphony is contained in one short song. The woman was a genius.

JUDEE SILL – the kiss – Live 1973

A Good Drink:

One of the houses I lived in while in Auckland had a very generous grapefruit tree in the garden. The fruit was pink inside and actually quite sweet. I used to love making myself a Tanqueray gin and tonic on a summer evening with lots of ice, then squeezing half a freshly picked grapefruit in and adding a generous sprig of mint. Refreshing and delicious.

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