Hoth Brothers – Workin’ and Dreamin’

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5

The Hoth Brothers are a dream band, two distinctive vocalists and players, Bard Erdington V and Boris McCutcheon, Sarah Ferrells Upright Bass and contrasting vocals and Greg Williams, striking percussion. Formed from conversations while pruning trees in the Santa Fe apple orchards it was working and dreaming right from the start. With Bard and Boris releasing their own albums The Hoth Brothers album was recorded in three days at Erdington’s House. From the first stomping beat this is physical, energetic music. “Trees Of Heaven” is sweet gospel meets bluegrass. The trio provide vocals with songwriter Boris McCutcheon’s soft Springsteen voice taking lead, over an infectious guitar, banjo and rattling drum beat. Bard Edrington V’s ear worm intense banjo leads on “Dreamin’ and Workin’. His vocal is natural, warm and recalls the fine singing of Willard Grant Conspiracy’s Robert Fisher. This ode to manual work just grooves along with some beautifully languid guitar. The lyric is an accurate description of days filled with day dreams while working and nights filled with dreams of labour.

Boris’ vocals on “Singing Grass” and “Bitter Frost” are superb, lifted straight off the front porch and motels of Springsteen’s Nebraska, filtered through the dead eyed melancholia of William’s “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”. The backing is stripped back on this classic in the making. “Whisky and a Woodstove” is a folked up development from Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”. It’s a feel good stomper with blues harmonica, driving guitar and a find twining of Boris n Bard’s voice. “Flint Hills” is a softly told tale of backwoods living, it just breathes along with a life of its own. “Horses Are Made of Wind” has a jazzy slippery vibe with a touch of 3am Dr John in the vocal and fine second voice from Stepahanie Hatfield. Totally unique chorus too. “Rendezvous Dual” has a wonderful rumbling vocal from Bard like a wasted Johnny Cash over a plaintive guitar. This is middle of the night, under the prairie stars, back against a rock music. The lyric, celebrating the cloud round the silver lining is fine too, punctuated by a bleak harmonica and a warm mandolin wind.

I’ve never left this mountainside, goes the lyric on “Chili Line”, painting authentic pictures of the album’s characters. This isn’t dude ranch Country, this is the real deal. There is a gospel pulse of a sun scorched work song running through “O the Birds Still Sing”, this is the well worn folk blues of real life on a superb track, with a lyric about the suffering behind beauty. “January” adds a slick JJ Cale guitar line to the band sound over some fine trio vocals building tension on this dark song that directs barbs and bile at the orange president. Joint composition “Balancing Act” is a  21st Century protest song, protesting modern life with a, lyric like a County Randy  Newman. Closer “Wild Robby” is an escapist Cowboy ballad and a tale of misadventure, over an insistent banjo and guitar riff the song cascades with larger life details.

A warm and entertaining listen, great grooves, three voices that work well together perform an interesting mix of familiar themes and some surprising left field lyrics over tidy guitar and banjo riffs.

Choice Track: “Singing Grass” (NSV 489)