Hoots & Hellmouth clean-up quite nicely.
The roots crewâ€™s previous albums were unwieldy, full of loose sing-alongs and rambunctious stringed breakdowns. But the first notes of â€œWhy You Want to Go There,â€ the lead track from Salt, signal a change in current, the Pennsylvania collective tuned up and tight. Thatâ€™s not to say that the cemetery choruses found on the debut have disappeared. They havenâ€™t, and â€œLay Lowâ€ shakes and shimmies with a chain gang rhythm and a multi-part chorus that enlivens the wiry guitarâ€™s steady pulse. Where Salt truly shines, though, is in the more delicate compositions; the modest jubilee of â€œApple Like a Wrecking Ball, and the playful finger-picking of â€œThe Acheâ€ are outstanding. Call it what you will, but I say it is damn near perfect.
Rock and roll has always felt unkempt, but these musicians are easingÂ into a more mature sound that suits them well. Salt is deliberate, self-aware, and, call me crazy, but I believe that Hoots & Hellmouth are ready to make their mark.
Salt is out now on sonaBLAST.