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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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April 2018

1
Courtney Marie Andrews
100 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
PK,CVL,DHO,JB,LK
2
Mary Gauthier
59 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
3
Caleb Caudle
49 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
TJ,TK,MP
4
Western Centuries
48 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
DD,GS,FS,HM
5
Vivian Leva
44 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
 
6
Ed Romanoff
42 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
7
Grant Peeples
41 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental
AN
8
Joan Baez
32 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
 
9
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
29 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
MF,HDB
 
Sam Morrow
29 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
JV
11
Chris Smither
27 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
JSM,JD
12
Michael McDermott
26 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
CRS
13
John Prine
24 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
SP
14
Mary Chapin Carpenter
23 pts.
Sometimes Just The Sky
Lambent Light Records
 
15
Dean Owens
22 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
PJ
16
6 String Drag
21 pts.
Top of The World
Schoolkids Records
FCE,JS
 
Haley Heynderickx
21 pts.
I Need To Start A Garden
Mama Bird Recordings
 
 
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
21 pts.
Tearing At The Seams
Stax Records
RM
19
Abe Partridge
20 pts.
Cotton Fields And Blood For Days
Skate Mountain
MVP,RK
 
Adam James Sorensen
20 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
BM
 
Ben Reel
20 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
 
 
Chip Taylor
20 pts.
Fix Your Words
Train Wreck Records
LM
 
Kesia Nagata
20 pts.
Looking For Horses
Caramal Productions
GC,EZ
 
Sheesham & Lotus & 'Son
20 pts.
Clear The Table
SepiaPhone Records
SZ,PG
25
3hattrio
18 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
 
 
Marlon Williams
18 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans

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