HUNGRYTOWN – Circus For Sale (Big Stir Records)

Circus For SaleHungrytown’s new album, Circus For Sale, perhaps, requires some audio equivalent to a pair of those 3-D glasses to reveal the deep dimensions within their hybrid sound of Americana-Celtic-psych-very British 70’s folk music, which steps on delicate, melodic, and ancient stones brushed with vibrant coloured currents distilled into wonderful folk songs.

To be beautifully blunt: This album conjures the summer idylls still vibrant in the vinyl grooves of British and Irish 70s folk greats like Bridget St. John, Trader Horne (with Judy Dyble!), Spriguns, Vashti Bunyon, (sans the electricity) Trees, and Mellow Candle. And because Hungrytown has Americana roots, it’s good to throw the brilliant Judee Sill into the mix.

That said, these songs sing with clever arrangements, courtesy of multi-instrumentalist Ken Anderson, as ‘Another Year’ is flooded with Rebecca Hall’s multi-tracked voice, while an electric guitar dabbles in those vibrant 3-D optical coloured currents, as a celestial organ hovers like a Medieval hymn. Then, ‘Circus For Sale’ dips into deeper folk-psych weird euphoria with more keyboards and strident percussion, as Rebecca Hall’s vocals float with a ringmaster’s three-ringed melody. And ‘Trillium And Columbine’ finds a featherbed comfort with warm vocals and soft viola/violin strings.

But the folk blood pulse throws a triple twenty dart toss with the sublime ‘Feel Like Falling’. The song steps on those delicate, melodic, and ancient stones that sing with acoustic guitar and soft vocals with deep dimensions of beautiful psychological clarity.

Then, ‘Man Of Poor Fortune’ sings over an approving tombstone of Cecil Sharp.  This is British folk music with the dark pathos of too many ancient ghosts still haunting modern melodies.

The traditional ‘Green Grow The Laurels’ continues the British folk song reverie, with an added banjo as a reminder of an Americana pulse.

There are more psych-touched tunes. ‘Tuesday Sun’ echoes the gentle beauty of Anthony Phillips’ ‘God If I Saw Her Now’ from his Geese And The Ghost solo album. But again, the clever arrangement opens the melody into a burst of mid-summer colour. The before-mentioned Bridget St. John comes to mind. The same is true for the languid ‘Morning Brings Peace Of Mind’, which adds a soft harmonica solo. Then, ‘Gravity’ has a simple voice, acoustic guitar, and cello construct, with just a hint of a Sandy Denny chorus vocal memory. Of course, ‘Late New England (Afternoon In June)’ continues the contemplative quietude. It’s the most obvious song, but it touches, with soft piano steps, an innocent American mid-summer languorous thought.

In nice contrast, ‘Little Bird’ is wonderfully upbeat, with a breezy melody, a banjo bounce, more harmonica, steady percussion, and saintly keyboards. The great Natalie Merchant, circa In My Tribe comes to mind, as does (the much lesser known) Donna Croughn and her Tiny Lights band.

Circus For Sale swirls with deep multi-dimensional melodies that fuse and bend into brand-new folk songs that still step on those brushed stones. The brief song, ‘Leaving’, is a fitting finale, as it is draped in a sad processional organ and cello halo. At the same time, Rebecca Hall’s vocals wander through ancient cathedral thoughts that require (with that 3-D insight) a melodic and always sacred folk song punctuation mark.

Bill Golembeski 

Artists’ website:

‘Another Year’:

We all give our spare time to run Our aim has always been to keep folking a free service for our visitors, artists, PR agencies and tour promoters. If you wish help out and donate something (running costs currently funded by Paul Miles), please click the PayPal link below to send us a small one off payment or a monthly contribution.