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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hungrytown - Any Forgotten Thing

Hungrytown - Any Forgotten Thing
2011, Listen Here! Records

Simplicity is a gift in music, a fact well-appreciated by Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson, collectively known as Hungrytown.  The duo spends most of their time on the road, and spends their time at home together laying down new material to keep the fire going.  Their latest effort, Any Forgotten Thin, plays like a collection of twelve classic folk and pop songs, but is entirely original and driven by the simple beauty of Rebecca Hall's alto and the sparse yet fulfilling arrangements crafted by Anderson.  Any Forgotten Thing also features a trio of backup vocal performances from the talented Laura Molinelli.

Any Forgotten Thing opens with "Year Without A Summer", the tale of a young lass who gives herself up with the promise of a spring wedding that never happens.  He leaves town and she is left with a baby to care for, all set against the Poverty Year of 1816, a period of global cooling caused by the Mount Tambora (Indonesia) volcanic eruption of 1815.  The number plays like an Irish folk song, and is beautiful in its naïveté and hope.  "Rolling Train" is a pretty folk ballad that uses deep energy to describe a relationship.  The arrangement is striking, infusing European sounds into the mix while allowing the simple beautify of the melody to reign.  "Just Like A Song" is a song of hope, memorializing the struggles of day-to-day life to the process of writing music.

"Never Realized" is a message to all who will listen to make the most out of the time they have; pointing out time's tendency to slip away with the dreams we never acted upon.  There is no melancholy or loss here, just a simple wish to not wait to do the things that make you happy.  Anderson's arrangement is a perfect complement to the melody line, creating a quiet yet notable "Wow" moment.  "Any Forgotten Thing" explores the feeling of behind left aside in a mildly peppy and poignant tune that is as refreshing as it is surprising.  This could have been written as a self-pitying tale of woe, but becomes beautiful in its honest, unaffected delivery.

"Calliope" is an ethereal number using the instrument and its traditional placement in a circus carousel as an allegory for the way the mind circles around regret for past choices.  This utterly artful piece of songwriting is lyric in word and poetic in composition; a thing of beauty.  "Falling Star" is the stripped down wonderment of night; Hungrytown's sparse arrangement allows Hall's eclectically lovely voice to shine.  "Make It All Work Out" uses subtly biting humor to poke holes in the facade of modern consumer culture, where mindless and spineless define perfect citizenship.  Hungrytown accompanies the story with a smarmy little folk/pop arrangement that is just out of sync; giving the appearance of perfection but only if you don't look too closely.  This is accomplished without giving the ham-handed appearance of a blatant attempt, implying a quiet genius in orchestration that is worth keeping an eye (and ear) on going forward.

"Under A Broken Sun" is a mournful and poignant number that dwells on the suffering of those who live in constant danger from the world around them, while "Like You Do" is a gentle kiss off that isn't as mutually benign as it may, at first sound.  Hall calls out a former love match for unspecified dysfunction, but portrays it in a fashion that shows the dysfunction ran both ways.  Hungrytown closes with "The Sweetest Flower", a gorgeous a cappella piece with its roots firmly planted in Appalachian folk and the high lonesome sound of Monrovian Bluegrass.  It's a gentle slip into the good night that will draw you in, hoping for more from Hungrytown.

Hungrytown travels the rails and back country roads of folk, country and gentle pop on Any Forgotten Thing.  The mix of Rebecca Hall's voice and poignant songwriting, and Ken Anderson's brilliantly simple arrangements is musical gold.  This is an album you put on 'repeat all' and live with for a while, and then revisit often in the comfort of old friends.  Any Forgotten Thing is destined for year-end, best-of lists.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Hungrytown at or    Any Forgotten Things is available on as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via iTunes.

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