Flyinshoes Review

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http://hungrytown.net   

Hungrytown are long-time married couple Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson; they've both been involved in music-making for a long time and have made the long step from, respectively, torch songs and rock music to make folk music of astonishing delicacy and purity. In the process of making this long step they relocated from New York City to rural Vermont, and I guess that has helped them in the process of making their distinctive music.

          It is Rebecca Hall's voice and her songwriting that make Hungrytown what they are. She sings gently and with a pure tone that reminds me a little of mid-60s folk/pop sounds; it's the very antithesis of rock music and its attitudes. Clearly, somebody who once sang torch songs  could probably sing any-which way she wanted and so has made a very positive choice to go for this style.  Ken Anderson is responsible for the arrangements that fit around her voice and contributes some seamless harmony vocals as well as any instrument required other than Rebecca's acoustic guitar - instruments that appear so unobtrusively you barely notice what is being played a lot of the time. If Rebecca is the nightingale, singing with a voice of captivating beauty, then Ken's arrangements are a lacework of branches, a frame of natural beauty in itself.

           Rebecca's songs are a quite remarkable re-working of several centuries of folk tradition. She's certainly immersed herself completely into the whole business of how these songs are put together. Once or twice I had to check, and then check again, that this wasn't a traditional song I was hearing. In fact, there's an awful lot about this album that sounds more English than American - apart from the song The Sweetest Flower, which owes an awful lot to Robert Burns - and I suspect this English tone comes from reaching so far back into the American tradition that the two streams are rejoined.  Her subject matter is often contemporary, about relationships or about living in a tumbledown old house, but the delivery takes you back to a quieter age, without the rush and noise and intense busy-ness of our modern lives.

           Contemporary American folk music is full of people trying to evoke times gone by and there seem to be almost as many ways of doing this as there are old-timey acts. Hungrytown have a distinctive slant on this whole idea and I think the quiet beauty of their music almost sounds like a prayer for calm in a febrile world.

 

John Davy

 

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
Sugar Hill
RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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