Hearse House comes from the southeast region of New Hampshire and is made up of Landon Loveday and David Steadman. The duo writes American folk music and their brand of American music is best described as mid-tempo, lo-fi, big sky, blues folk – a “moonlit daydream” as you will. Loveday’s “unapologetic rhythmic riffing and flat picking create a rock steady canvas for Steadman’s slide guitar, vocal and his abstract imaginative stories.” Most of the songs on their self-titled debut Hearse House were recorded in Loveday’s home in Manchester; the one exception is “Sweet Girl” which was recorded live at Steadman’s home – (a 1985 Scottie tow-behind camper doubling as Hearse House’s creative space). I’ll say for the record, the band’s album cover is creepy as hell, but strangely appealing.
The lo-fi, buzzing amp and fuzzy, echoing guitar certainly gives the listener images of a rustic American folk soundscape on the band’s opener “Bear and Vulture.” The quality of sound, production and all that comes with recording feels so real, so honest on this beginning song – that if I was a TV producer and my network’s number one show was a post-Civil War cowboy western, I’d snatch this tune right up. “Broken Will” begins with rolling guitar chords and more of Steadman’s haunting slide guitar. In terms of the vocals, the pair’s tones – one taking the lead at a higher range and the other a low, brooding baritone – are a match made in heaven. “Letter to Our Leader” carries on the duo’s storytelling mystique and chilling, American dusty folk sound. The song’s words echo a plea “help me to save this life.”
“Ghetto” features deeper, more stirring guitar chords as if the guitar itself is telling a sad, dark story. I believe the band is singing on the chorus, “My mind is Ghetto – it’s always been” – phew! that’s downright sad, my friend. After this fourth song in, it hit me – whoever is singing lead vocal – his tone and the way in which the tune was delivered, reminded me of Chris Cornell – but make no mistake, way less screamy and scratchy than the former singer for Soundgarden. On the next tune “Sparrow” the duo delivers a low down, gritty and blues-ish style. Very moving. Lastly, there is “Sweet Girl” – you can definitely hear the “live” sound on this one, and yeah – it sounds damn good. Lyrically, I think the song is about a girl’s wedding day. What stood out for me here was the acoustic solo, whereupon I could distinctly hear the rhythm of the other acoustic. Perhaps because this number is the band’s longest song, it naturally gave them the freedom to do a solo.
If you ever need a dose of American folk music that has with it an alluring style and haunting presence, as if from another era, check out Hearse House.
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