All new releases that we receive at the station are reviewed for quality and FCC restrictions. This month’s review comes from our awesome Sarah B, host of Songs for Friends.
Artist: House and Land
Album: House and Land
Genre: traditional hymns & ballads
Label: Thrill Jockey
Release Date: 6-9-17
Recommended If You Like: Jean Ritchie; Ralph Stanley; Shirley Collins; Alice Gerrard
These are some old-timey tunes from some old-soul ladies who live right here in Asheville. (Well, I believe Sarah Louise Henson lives in Madison County, but close enough. And Sally Morgan works with me at Harvest Records; she also runs her own letterpress business.) I first saw Sarah Louise have her way with a 12-string when she opened up for the Black Twig Pickers over a year ago at the Mothlight. Sally plays fiddle in that band, and after the performance, the two of them decided to start playing together. They sound like another time, another world. Both of their voices are earthy and unadorned.
In “Wandering Boy,” Sally plays banjo and Sarah bouzouki (beautiful) while they both sing from the perspective of a “wandering boy” who misses his mother. Their voices blend together nicely here, but Sally’s is most prominent. “False True Lover” (the first single) is another banjo-based number with only Sally singing while Sarah adds warmth with her 12-string. The instrumentation is lovely. At 5:54, “The Day is Past and Gone” is the longest track; it begins with Sarah singing and plucking her guitar and soon incorporates Thom Nguyen’s (Nest Egg, Harvest Records) minimal but persistent drumming (lots of nice subtle cymbal splashing) and Sally’s fiddle drone. There are a couple of jam-out interludes in which Sarah really shows off her guitar-picking chops. (She’s amazing.) More of this talent is evident in “Home Over Yonder,” but in a softer way, and Sally’s fiddle shows its sweet side, too, with Thom’s drums providing a bright and constant pulse.
House and Land will have their album release show at the Mothlight on June 9th.