What a beautiful thing I have made (Jealous Butcher, 2023)
Reviewed by Jim Hynes
They are Kati Claborn (vocals/guitar/banjo/clarinet), Luke Ydstie (vocals/guitar/bass/keys) and Halli Anderson (vocals/violin). Each of the three members play in other bands too. Ydstie and Claborn are in Blind Pilot, while Anderson is in River Whyless and Horse Feathers. On some tracks they get support from drummer Dan Hunt as well as other drummers and various guests.
On "Damn the Word," Claborn sings the infectious melody with nice fiddle support from Anderson as the protagonist drinks away the sorrows of a broken relationship – "Damn the word never once spoke/Drew the line between you and me."
"James' Drink" has Ydstie in the lead, reflecting on an especially good performance night, perhaps the last one of a tour, where all over celebrated. Anderson has the honors in "Birdcage," like many with abstract lyrics (their last album was entitled "A Dobritch Did As A Dobritch Should" after all), but lush harmonies and interplay between fiddle, guitars, banjo and lap steel.
"Angela" has Claborn finding an old breakup letter in her bedroom when visiting her parents only to hear her father call up from the kitchen with the resonating devastating two words, "I'm Leaving." It's the gem of the release.
The album title and cover photograph is essentially a beautiful pile of garbage and the lyrics are the group's way of describing how they feel about the album – "Make a pile of weeds, make a pile of stones/I am building a home for my heavenly bones/It's all lumber and rust, should-have-dones, it's a bust/But I do see my hand in every reach of this land." Most every song has a reference to drinking and others address the fishing imagery of their river locale such as "Hum with the Worms," and "Alligators." No matter the subject or obtuse nature of many of the lyrics, it's the stirring harmonies that will win you over.
CDs by The Hackles
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