Chris Hartford — Losing Season
((Not on label) no#, 2011, CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2014-01-22I’m guessing that singer songwriter Chris Hartford has permanently exited from folk rock outfit Cathedral & Rum. Based on this solo outing it might be a good move. I often felt that Hartford’s earnest folk-based songwriting was at odds with the instrumental angularity of C&R. Here his tales about love and the follies of humanity are presented within a straightforward and almost nostalgic setting, with few of the acid-folk or psych trappings from past recordings. There’s a late 60s/early 70s vibe infecting this collection that is a good match to the material. Fans of Bob Dylan circa Nashville Skyline will warm to the acoustic guitar, reedy organ, and gentle bass and drums backing most of the songs. I can’t tell if the light country twang Hartford frequently throws into his vocals is genuine, but it definitely works. Songs like “La Pistola,” “Straightjacket Midnights,” and “Box of Stars” have instant accessibility, though I feel like I’m closer to the message on songs like “A Few Steps...” or “Never Let You Go.” On these he lets the vocal stretch into an almost boozy swagger that embraces the lyrics and makes the prose feel more urgent. Folk music is about making a connection with the listener, so I can’t say how successful these songs will be with anyone but myself, but I do feel that Hartford has grown with this collection. My only real complaint is that for a singer-songwriter album why aren’t lyrics included in the liner notes? Maybe next time.
Related artist(s): Chris Hartford
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more