Reviews

White Hat

Author: Gabe Vigh
06/16/2012 | Hotindienews.com | www.hotindienews.com | Record Review
Being signed to Saddle Creek Records doesn't guarantee success or stellar songwriting, but Big Harp shouldn't need much help in either department. Snatched up recently by Conor Oberst's famed imprint, Big Harp is a husband and wife duo that crafts a catchy mix of country and folk Americana on their debut White Hat.

It's easy to confuse the voice of lead singer and guitarist Chris Sensenery for that of a grizzled country music veteran. It's rough, low and full of easy irony. It wasn't until he started wailing on the tail end of "Out in the Field" that I realized I'd been fooled. But long before that, I was beguiled.

It's difficult (impossible?) to resist the charms of the "Everybody Pays" the gritty pretty first single whose lyrics read like a country western take on karma. Don't let the gorgeous finger picking fool you; a surly lyric lurks beneath.

Over 5 fun-filled verses Sensenery spins us through a complicated set of circumstances, ending with the moving lines, "When you whistle in El Paso on a cold Laredo dawn/

When you're walking in the world but you're living in a song/ While you stamp your little tracks onto a vanished seabed's clay/ Rest assured my pretty baby/ Rest assured my pretty baby/ Everybody pays." It's a righteous ode to experience, a song so addictive it feels like a guilty pleasure.

"Goodbye Crazy City" follows suit. Over gentle picking and snare, Sensenry crafts a bittersweet ode to the best and worst of civilization. "Goodbye crazy city", he opines, "I'd cry if I knew how/ But you beat the tears right out of me/ When I first came to town." Unpretentious and wise, the lyrics and emotional heft of this track are unrivaled in popular music today. You've really got to hear it to understand.

Sensenry kind of sounds like the love child of Andrew Bird and Nick Cave if that were genetically possible. Dour road-weariness abounds, and endears. And the aforementioned wailing? Just dial in Track 10 and let your ears drink the sound. Yes, I'm finished Big Harp. Thank you. More please?
White Hat

White Hat

LP / CD / MP3




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