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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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May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
 
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
HD
 
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
KG
 
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Volunteer
Columbia Records
GF
 
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
17
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Gliding
Eight 30 Records
RST,RH
20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Independent
HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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