Hungrytown announce their new album


Big Stir Records is proud to bring you the long-awaited fourth album from Vermont-based indie-folk chamber-pop duo Hungrytown – their debut for the label –to be released on CD and all digital platforms on June 21. Circus For Sale has been teased by the hit indie singles ‘Another Year,’ ‘Feel Like Falling’ and ‘Tuesday Sun,’ and it arrives as the band continue to take its songs on the road with year-round tour dates in the US and UK.

Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson, through their years of worldwide touring and tireless devotion to many classic genres of music, have crafted Hungrytown into a true artistic hybrid, able to hold Celtic and Americana, ballads and psychedelia, sunshine and darkness, joy and despair –not only within the same album, but within the same song. That’s been true across the three prior full-length records they’ve released since their 2005 formation, all of which have won accolades and Year’s Best recognition from within the roots and folk community and beyond, but on Circus For Sale, Hungrytown goes deeper, higher, and further into a world and sound of their own creation.

The borders of that dream geography can be sensed on the singles: each travels a path from stark to lush, with Hall’s voice (once described by Roger McGuinn as embodying ‘a sweetness and a worldly wisdom in perfect balance’) gliding above delicate acoustic guitar intros that build into sophisticated, textured arrangements devised by Anderson and culminating in the near-Sunshine Pop groove of the paradoxical prayer for rain ‘Tuesday Sun’. These songs are cinematic and intimate all at once, partly ancient, partly tethered to ’60s baroque pop, and belonging in equal parts to the modern world and a time all their own.

That Hungrytown has built a thoroughly bespoke world apart from the one we know on Circus For Sale is partly down to the circumstances of its creation. For a band that’s spent over a decade constantly on the road, the static existence mandated by the pandemic was fated to impact the creative process, all the more so given the rural Vermont environs in which they spent it. The unease of the unasked-for stillness can be felt on ‘Little Bird’ despite the tune’s sweetly jangling lilt, on the mesmerisingly unsettling waltz of the title track, and in the hushed chamber-pop of its thematic companion piece ‘Gravity’.  It reaches its turning point with the catharsis of ‘Feel Like Falling.’ as Rebecca explains.

“I wrote those lyrics at the beginning of the pandemic, when we were trying to adjust to the sudden shift in our lives –from constantly touring and performing to staying home and waiting. It’s fundamentally a metaphor about grief, written over a period of a few months, but by the end of it I was beginning to realize that the break from the road was actually a gift of time. I was not used to having the luxury of time –to write, observe and learn new skills –instead of always being on the move.” As Anderson’s string arrangement (beautifully executed by the Aliento Chamber Players) swells beneath her vocal at the song’s end, that revelation is palpable and deeply striking.”

The same sense of acceptance is also expressed in the band’s deftly empathetic reading of Bert Jansch’s ‘Morning Brings Peace Of Mind’, one of several heartfelt nods to the band’s immersion in the roots of the music they play. The traditional ballad ‘Green Grow The Laurels; sees its traditional banjo melody driven along by rock and roll drums, only to dovetail into the complementary (but wholly original) wildflower ode ‘Trillium And Columbine’ on which Hungrytown fully commits the baroque sounds that ornament so many other arrangements on Circus For Sale. The veil between the folkloric and the modern is just as thin on ‘Man Of Poor Fortune’, a band original in the mould of a classic murder ballad. In context, these songs lend the record a sense of slightly sideways lore –the kind sometimes purveyed in the best songs of Robbie Robertson, Leonard Cohen, R.E.M. or Neko Case, a skewed mythology for a reality that’s not quite congruent with ours, at once familiar and utterly mysterious.

Fittingly for a record on which Hungrytown is concerned with building their own world from a rare point of stillness rather than moving in a perpetual rush through the one we know, Circus For Sale is nearly bookended by odes to their native Vermont. The opening ‘Another Year’ embodies all the months of the calendar:

“It’s an ode to the changing seasons, inspired by the magical melancholy of the softer side of late 1960s psychedelia”, says Hall. “There is beauty in this world, but the innocent ’60s sensibility has been replaced by an uneasiness –a sense of some apocalyptic threat lurking just outside the pleasant frame.” And while things have fallen slightly more into place by the penultimate track ‘Late New England (Afternoon In June)’, its gorgeous and celebratory tone still carries an echo of uncertainty as the lyrics conclude: “The ground is moving, guess I stumbled on your nest… and I’m so sorry that I woke you.”

The term “song cycle” is perhaps overused, but here, in the most unforced and authentic of ways, it applies, ending where it began, Circus For Sale has travelled without moving, exploring the textures of stillness in remarkable depth. That leaves just the closing track, the beautifully understated ‘Leaving’, to signal that a journey long deferred is at last to begin anew. What that means within the song is as mysterious and compellingly ambiguous as much of what has come before. What it means in the real world is that Hungrytown is at last on the road again, already bringing these home-crafted artifacts of a time of stasis to audiences all over a once again bustling world. And the perspective that these songs bring to that still-troubled reality, onstage and as the bewitchingly multifaceted musical jewels that make up this record is invaluable.

Artists’ website:

‘Tuesday Sun’ – official video:

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