Check out The Quietus’ new interview with Hannah Peel in conversation about her new album ‘Awake But Always Dreaming’. The album is out now on iTunes and was co-written and produced by Erland Cooper


“When I awake / Yesterday is far away / When I awake / I don’t recall your name, my only friend.”

Conversations” by Hannah Peel, 2016

Dementia is a cruel and callous illness. It robs people of their memory, personality and, ultimately, their dignity. There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and this number is estimated to rise to a truly frightening 2 million by 2050.

I live with the heartbreak caused by dementia. My mother was once a vibrant, ferociously independent woman who played cricket, line-danced several times a week and would routinely spook me by playing her beloved Nana Mouskouri records. These days she does not know who I am, cannot walk and is reliant on my utterly devoted father to feed her every meal. There is no respite and no chance of recovery. Dementia is relentlessly grim.

Multi-instrumentalist Hannah Peel also understands the insidious, torturous path of watching a loved one succumb to the disease. Her grandmother had dementia and the many hours spent together would become to the inspiration for Peel’s second solo album, Awake But Always Dreaming. The concept for the record – five years in the making since 2011’s The Broken Wave - became clear after one particular visit to her grandmother in Ireland, after which Hannah wrote the track ‘Conversations’. It’s a truly beautiful song — and lyrically so close-to-the-bone that I personally struggle to listen to it without dissolving into tears. Hannah admits she doesn’t know when she will be able to sing ‘Conversations’ in public, due to the raw weight of emotion.

And Awake But Always Dreaming is an incredible record. Lead single ‘All That Matters’ is shimmering electro pop – and a million miles away from the music box and acoustic feel of The Broken Wave - and paves the way for the album’s elegant narrative. Tracks arc from the joyous surge of youth, through to old age and a mind shredded by disease amid an array of musical styles and tempos. ‘Octavia’ fuses experimental electronica and bursts of brass to create a glorious hallucinogenic fug, while the album ends on a duet with Wild Beasts’ Hayden Thorpe – a pristine cover of Paul Buchanan’s ‘Cars In The Garden’. It is a perfect ending — a simple song that mirrors the return to an almost childlike state for many dementia patients.’.… Read More

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