Tell Me How You Feel has seventeen songs, one hour and six minutes long. Hoth Brothers Band (HOTH = High On The Hog) have not been lying idly in their beds over the past year but have used well the time recovered from not been able to tour and live as normal. The band consist of Bard Edrington V, Sarah Ferrell and Boris McCutcheon, whose album As Old As Espanola we reviewed a year ago. (https://folking.com/boris-mccutcheon-as-old-as-espanola-fvr-091/).
There’s a glorious simplicity to the sound, based around guitar, banjo and upright bass, adorned occasionally by harmonica, mandolin, drum. In other words, it’s very American sound, created acoustically and redolent of their New Mexico area. This sense of place is also specific in some of the tracks. Try these three: “I’m just a river hick, but at least I’m free” in ‘Slickhorn’ which takes us to the Slickhorn Canyon on the San Juan river (the track, catchy, nicely arranged, made me look out some photos of this spectacular setting); the opening track, ‘Judith’ tells the story of an old painter, “Who will harness the light”, in the mountain village of Truchas; the closing track, and the only cover among the seventeen tracks, ‘Rough Ragged Edge’, the tough landscape building tough people.
‘Cliff Fendler’ is a desert flower/bush and the track uses it to lead to wider reflection on life “there’s mercy beyond the pain”. ‘Cherry Pits’ is a smilingly bitter blues “Last night I had cherries, today I gotta eat them pits” – this has nothing to do with fruitarians and everything to do with human relationships. ‘The Passage’ moves us further into relationships with a haunting tune, much bleaker lyrically, “I spent twenty years trying to break you out…nothing to show but pain and doubt”.
The band’s diversity leaps out in ‘Boogieman Mesa’ banjo and drums to fore with the vocals of all three band members, a slightly dystopian sound to match lyrics about Espanola. It’s there again in the acapella ‘One Hard Rain’. Further variety/depth is added through Sarah Ferrell taking the lead on and ‘The Wilding of Robbie’ and (jointly) on ‘Trouble and Desire’.
‘Tell Me What You’re Thinking’ is (just about) the title track “Tell me what you’re thinking/Tell me how you feel”. It’s a tender song, the humanity of day-to-day life and day to day relationships. And as for me, what am I thinking? I’m thinking this album is a great use of the band’s time over the past year. I’d been hoping to see them live (last Autumn, I think the tour was planned for); there’s no substitute for live performance, but until we get back to live gigs, this album is a pretty good showcase for Hoth Brothers Band.
Artist’s website: https://www.hothbrothers.com
‘Cliff Fendler’ – official video: