THE LARK AND THE LOON – Homestead Hands (own label)

Homestead HandsShe’s the lark and he’s the loon and The Lark And The Loon are multi-instrumental husband and wife duo Jeff Rolfzen and Rocky Steen-Rolfzen. Homestead Hands is a self-penned album, their second, packed with stories from the Black Hills to the Ozarks.

Their songs are suffused with western lore and range from the sound of a theme song from an old western to slide guitar blues. The opener, ‘Code Of The West’, comes from Rocky, or rather stories that her forebears told and passed down when they settled in Montana and the title track is also inspired by her family. She returns to that home in ‘Lonesome Western Heart’ and yodels authentically on ‘Homestead Hands’ and they use the same pattern of notes on ‘The Old Red Rooster’, a song with historical connections – look up Spearfish Creek if you’re interested.

Jeff tackles the harsher aspects of western life. He’s from St. Paul and, although he’s moved out of the city now, the city hasn’t completely left him as you can hear on the rocking ‘Deal With The Devil’ and ‘Give My Regards To Mr. Hicock’. That’s not a typo, by the way, Wild Bill’s name was occasionally spelled that way. ‘No Place To Be’ is a restless song of nostalgia and regret sung by Rocky while ‘Time For Moving On’ is Jeff’s take on the life of the itinerant musician. Life in the country is at the heart of the album, though, exemplified by ‘Ozark Mountain Home’, an ode to where they live now.

Musically, Jeff provides the foundation on guitars and banjo and decorates on harmonica while Rocky does a similar job on accordion and banjo – there’s a lot of banjo on Homestead Hands – and adds percussion, although how you play a shotgun shell remains a mystery to me. This album is heaps of fun and now I feel the need of a John Wayne movie.

Dai Jeffries

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Artists’ website: www.thelarkandtheloon.com

‘Homestead Hands’ – live: