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Hungrytown - Hungrytown (Listen Here Records)

Star rating: 

At first glance you might think you'd inadvertently walked into a scene from Annie Hall, with Alvy Singer and his eponymous heroine Annie, not so much wrestling with lobsters or watching the sun come up over Brooklyn Bridge, but maybe that memorable scene of Annie doing her cabaret turn.. la-di-da, la-di-da. With a name like Rebecca Hall, we could for all intents and purposes be dealing with one of Annie's siblings. One thing is for sure, Annie's kid sister can certainly sing, and sing very well indeed.

Joking apart, the Hungrytown duo are a delight to listen to. At first I wasn't too sure, it all sounded a little too retro, like re-visiting The Springfields or The Seekers, but after a couple of listens, this fine debut is quite intoxicating. Vermont's Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson have a gentle no nonsense approach to both their delicious harmony singing and their easy going playing. It's never overtly old timey nor fundamentally bluegrass, but a rich mixture of various styles and influences, with an immediately accessible and radio friendly sound.

There's something of A Mighty Wind in both their appearance and their song structures, but it's really more pastiche than parody. Even though it is a retro style reminiscent of the early 1960's folk boom, you never feel that the duo are anything other than sincere in their endeavours. Lucille, Lucille is a gentle starter, which introduces us to the voice that dominates the entire album, with a fine supporting cast of musicians including Zack Deming on banjo and Jeff Vogelsang providing additional guitar.    

Sylvie is a variation of the traditional Once I Had a Sweetheart with a fine vocal performance by Rebecca, augmented by some fine interplay between violin, cello, oboe and Celtic harp courtesy of Eric Lee, Suzanne Mueller, Fredric T Cohen and Cynthia Hughes respectively. Weep Not For Me provides the album with a lilting lullaby of startling beauty whilst Troubles Change Direction is typical of Hungrytown's harmonies, where Rebecca's voice is complimented by Ken's unmistakable intuitive harmony.

None of the songs on HUNGRYTOWN are new exactly, all of the selections being written over the last decade from Rebecca and Ken's On the Other Side from 2000 through to the later songs November Song and the infectious Rose or the Briar from 2006. The album closes with a pretty faithful version of the Gene Clark/Jesse Davis classic With Tomorrow, echoing the original's fragility but losing none of its power.

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky