Reviews

White Hat

Author: Jess Gronewold
8/15/11 | Buzzinemusic.com | www.buzzinemusic.com | Record Review
It's a familiar story of small-town Nebraska boy meets big-city Los Angeles girl. That is how Big Harp was born. This husband-and-wife duo of Chris Senseney (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Stefanie Drootin-Senseney (bass, backing vocals) definitely live in the moment. In three years, they met, fell in love, had a son, got married, and then had a daughter. They then made an album, and that album is White Hat. And like their time together, this too moved quickly. Big Harp recorded White Hat in only three days. White Hat is a simple, understated gift of storytelling. The album opens with a tale about a girl who runs off to California to escape a man and ends up finding another man who cheats on her. "Nadine" gives you a simple drum beat with a saloon-style piano track over the top. As the story progresses, so does the sound, adding in distorted guitars and more vocal attitude. Despite a theme noted "...in every other song," Big Harp brings a refreshingly unique sound and charm to this story. You can picture the movie for this song in your mind easily. Moving a little deeper into White Hat, Big Harp gives you the sweet-sounding, but slightly pessimistic "Everybody Pays." The repeating guitar riff and nature sounds soothe your soul while telling you that no one escapes, "everybody pays." It's a quick, catchy tune that you'll hum along to. And while you're feeling down, it makes you feel a little better knowing that it isn't just you. Big Harp digs down into an even grittier, dirty, saloon-style, country sound in "All Bets Are Off." They hit you with a little bit of twang and a whole lot of attitude. Senseney's vocals give off such emotion with quiet moments and then hit you with screeches of soul. Even in this more country song, the band blends it beautifully with a more updated rock edge, utilizing a more rock sound from the gutiars. "Out in the Field" yields a sort of voo doo vibe. Senseney wails and screams as if he is fully in tune with the magic that is about to happen. The percussion lends nicely to a feeling of mischief and spookiness. This song is no different than the others on the album, with its use of a story as if you are watching the scene unfold around a campfire. It works you into a dance frenzy. The album ends much as it began?with a story about Nadine. "Oh Nadine" is told as a letter from Nadine's father, a sort of plea to get her to come home. Your heart aches for this poor man who feels as though he has lost his daughter. And the effect is so much greater with just Senseney's voice over a quiet piano melody for so much of the song. The end of the song slips into what almost sounds like a player piano in an old-time saloon. It's beautiful and tragic. Big Harp is one of those rare bands who perfectly blends an old-fashioned genre into a modern sound. Their storytelling is superb and their music is simple. This album will soothe and entertain you. It will mesmerize and captivate you. White Hat is pure magic, so let yourself enjoy the ride. Standout Tracks: "Nadine," "Everybody Pays," "Oh, Nadine," "All Bets Are Off," "Out In the Field" For Fans Of: Murder By Death, The Good Life, Nick Cave, Randy Newman
White Hat

White Hat

LP / CD / MP3




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