The Holy Open Secret, the second release from Philadelphia folk rockers Hoots and Hellmouth, rings with a prophetic, jeremiad-like spirit. From the stage that is their pulpit, Hoots and Hellmouth poke and prod like frenzied preachers on Sunday morning, challenging listeners to search within and without, and those who listen will have trouble not heeding the call.
Hoots and Hellmouth punctuate The Holy Open Spirit with a fervent, shake-your-fist-at-the-world abandon. Tracks like “Roots of the Industry,” “You and All of Us,” “Watch Your Mouth,” “What Good Are Plowshares If We Use Them Like Swords,” and “Known for Possession” are rollicking and rambunctious, reeking with the sweat and pitch of populist rallies and tent revivals. The commonality therein is the desire to question – whether it be authority, spirituality, oneself, or the world at large, nobody or no thing is beyond reproach.
The Holy Open Secret is also rich with subtle moments. “Three Penny Charm,” “Ne’er Do Well,” and “Dishpan Hands” wonderfully offset the album’s rowdier, foot stomping tracks. The most startling of these quiet interludes is the album closer, “Roll, Brandywine, Roll,” a metaphor drawn between the afterlife and Pennsylvania’s rolling Brandywine River. Listeners are left with a peaceful sense of foreverness that brings the record – and any good sermon – to a fitting close.
The Holy Open Secret is out now on Mad Dragon Records.