Artist Spotlight

Review: Hook & Anchor, Self-Titled

No Comments 6 July 2014

Review: Hook & Anchor, Self-Titled

“There are moments both large and small that contribute to the success of this album; an interesting drum fill here, a poignant lyric there, and breezy vocal tradeoffs that sound nearly as effortless as the instrumentation on every track. For fans of any type of modern folk, this is a must-listen.”

Artist: Hook & Anchor

Album: Self-Titled

Genre: Americana / Country Folk

RIYL: Blind Pilot, Great Lake Swimmers, Gregory Alan Isakov

Hook and Anchor

Hook & Anchor feature three members of the folk artists Blind Pilot (Kati Claborn-vocals, guitar, banjo, uke; Ryan Dobrowski-drums; and Luke Ydstie-bass, vocals) and veteran musicians Erik Clampitt (vocals, guitar, pedal steel) and Gabrielle Macrae (vocals, violin). Although this is their debut album as a new collaboration, you can hear the band gelling quickly on the opening Tom Petty-esque pop-country of “Famously Easy.” Throughout the course of the record, it’s easy to hear influences that range from folk to rock to classic country.

“Concerning Spectral Pinching” is a standout track, a simple but mighty song that rollicks with energy and a directness that demands you to listen. It’s a near-perfect introduction for fans of bands like Great Lake Swimmers or The Head and the Heart to lock into the unique groove of what Hook & Anchor has that separates them from their indie folk counterparts. “No, It’s Not” is another gorgeously constructed song that leads directly into the lush harmonies of “Hammer,” a stunner that plays on influences of country gospel and finds all the members in sync at every moment.

“Hazel Dell” is a slow-burner standout, featuring a sweet vocal from Claborn softly supported by heavenly harmonies, a seemingly-spontaneous string break from Macrae and an incredibly appealing drum performance from Dobrowski that’s all feel and languid rhythm. “Blackbird” picks up again just a tic, featuring yet another lovely vocal from Claborn that calls Rosanne Cash to mind. The record wraps with “Rock Salt and Nails,” an astoundingly good bonus track that acts as the icing on an already dense, layered cake that offers so much musical nourishment. It’s clear that these songs don’t quite fit into the Blind Pilot repertoire, but they definitely deserve to stand on their own in this incarnation.

Most of the time, this self-titled debut from Hook & Anchor feels like stunningly simplified bluegrass rather than an amalgamation of folk or Americana. At its heart, however, it’s pure, honest and gloriously easy to listen to. The lyrical and musical connection is set from the first note and carries all the way through on the strength of the strings to the final tap of the drumhead. There are moments both large and small that contribute to the success of this album; an interesting drum fill here, a poignant lyric there, and breezy vocal tradeoffs that sound nearly as effortless as the instrumentation on every track. For fans of any type of modern folk, this is a must-listen.


Hook & Anchor website:
http://hookandanchorband.com/

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