When an album plops into the Blabber office with a press release noting it was recorded in rural America by a husband and wife team we generally fire up the search engine and head to backwoods Appalachia for reference points. Hungrytown however forsake old time country and down-home hoots. The reference points here are the folk duos who populated the sixties from Simon and Garfunkel (OK, two guys but you get the drift) to Richard and Mimi Farina and all points between. Back then a whiff of old time Americana music might occasionally peek through but the primary influences were English (or Scots or Irish) folk song delivered in a bright collegiate style, precious, unsullied.
Hungrytown, Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson, capture that innocent era perfectly on this, their second album. Hall has a crystal clear voice while Anderson provides accompaniment and harmonies that have a naïve, innocent vibe especially when he adds glockenspiel to his guitar, mandolin, banjo and assorted other instruments. At times there is just too much sweetness and light and although they never descend into Puff the Magic Dragon land a song like Rolling Train with it’s opening lines “You’ll never stop the wind, never stop the rain/By standing in the path of a hurricane” is just a little bit too twee. Although they teeter on this edge on a few other songs happily the majority are rescued by some excellent harmonies and on the opening song “Year Without Summer” they turn in a real showstopper. A historical tale based on the long winter that followed the eruption of a volcano in 1815, Hall sings like Judy Henske on a song that could have been delivered on her Farewell Aldebaran album. The measured delivery even has some touches of early Pentangle about it and the addition of harmony vocals from Laura Molinelli adds a fine icy grandeur. The dreamlike Calliope with its circus waltz tune and Sally Lazy, a distant cousin to Sally Go Round The Roses could sit easily on a Hollywood psychedelic soundtrack featuring the likes of Tuesday Weld running through a meadow in slow motion.
Hungrytown will be touring the UK in may with a performance in Penicuik included. Dates on the website
Year Without Summer