Hanging Stars – Hollow Heart
Free Music – March 25, 2022
Wearing their cosmic country and late ’60s West Coast folk-rock influences on their sleeve, embroidered with stitching from Crosby Stills and Nash and The Byrds, recorded at Edwyn Collins’ Helmdale studios in Scotland, The hanging starHollow Heart’s fourth album is their best to date.
It opens about five minutes Ava, the hum of the strings and a simple echoing guitar line giving way to the arrival of muted drums, a boisterous airy guitar melody and the dreamy vocals of Richard Olson’s Lauren Canyon, picking up a sharp clearer on Black Light Night, the shoegaze sweetness of the voice against the psychedelic guitar tips. Evoking memories of classic bread filtered through a Graham Nash lens, Weep & Whisper ride clouds of pedalboard and piano, drummer Paula Colbie adding harmonies to a song about how aging takes over you.
A make-up song with a ’60s pop beat, Joe Harvey-Whyte’s pedalboard and Olson’s scrambled vocals, Radio on was the first sublime single, built to be released on a summer day, leading to carpe diem (“Drink your wine before the glass runs dry”) theme of Ballad of all that can be where I thought of Kaleidoscope, a cult 60s UK psych-folk outfit, as well as The Stone Roses. Although Olson quotes Richard Thompson and Fairport, it is instead The Byrds’ influences that can be heard on the half-title song, Hollow eyes, hollow heart, a song about the consequences of taking refuge in the bad neighborhoods or with the bad substances, recalling McGuinn and co somewhere between Everyone was burned and Light blue.
you are so free is their nod to West Coast psych-pop laced with Ethiopian jazz piano, a track Olson calls his version of The Turtles’ You Showed Me in response to social media and the enactment of differing viewpoints. (“Scroll through your feed. You are so free to believe in what you see…”). Next, with spoken excerpts (“Flowers grow near tombstones”) from Collins à la The Velvets Gift and written by bassist Sam Ferman, Rainbows on Windows is a beautiful smooth, mellow acoustic guitar and a shimmering electric wash of shoegaze ending in a swirl of electronics. Then penultimate I Don’t Want To Feel To So Bad Anymore comes in full over the 12-string Byrds Eight Miles High jangle flowing through baroque, winding, spatial fairground organ effects as, taking a political angle, Olson hits the Tory government (“Watch your greed, as you choke on an apple seedand sings about feeling good because you give up trying. It ends with woozy lo-fi folk swaying from red autumn leaf, a sort of spiritualized Americana about being cast aside with a long outro that, like album openers, fades away, circling around the final note. Their last three albums have seen them waver on greatness; this should rightly push them over the edge.
UK Tour Dates:
April 8 – Moth Club, London
April 24 – High Wycombe, Ramblin Roots
30 April / 1 May – Kilkenny (RI) Kilkenny Roots Festival
May 5 – Manchester, Gullivers
May 6 – Colchester, Three Wise Monkeys
May 13 – Newport, The Pub
May 27 – Liverpool, St Michael in the Hamlet Church
June 5 – Portsmouth, the Wedgwood rooms
July 2 – Easton, Maverick Festival