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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
April 18, 2015
Scott Foley

Great Thanx to all who helped Routes & Branches just about triple our show goal for KRFC's Spring 2015 Membership Drive.  Thanks also to Tarnation's Andy D, who sat in with me, helping me pitch and heaping occasional scorn upon my musical choices. Your kind show of support assures that they won't change the door locks on me, and that R&B will be greenlighted for another season.  H'rah!

Sometimes I miss the Northwest.  It's not that I don't appreciate the snow drifting on the pink Spring blooms.  As I've said before, when you've been so long in one place you'll spend the rest of your life either trying to get back or to stay away.  Philippe Bronchtein hails from Portland, and as Hip Hatchet he makes great songs out of Northwest resources on his second record, Hold You Like a Harness.  The low, heavy clouds are in his resonant mahogany tenor, and the days and days of rain dampen the spirits of Bronchtein's overcast stories.  There's a song on the album that says, "The cars look like crying / In this Oregon rain ..."  There is a definite romantic streak in songs like "Ladies Night" or "Travel Map", though there's little sun in the forecast for Hip Hatchet, a man whose thoughts are as often shaded by the guilt and "depravity" he carries. 
Use my back
As a travel map
You could dig your fingers in the places
You would like to go
Hold You Like a Harness sometimes sounds like a deep woods cabin, with the warmth of acoustic instrumentation and a rustic, close-in production.  There is often fiddle, pedal steel and piano beneath Philippe Bronchtein's fingerpicking, and even an occasional churchly organ.  "Coward's Luck" is the collection's fullest piece, with a self conscious eye keeping love at a distance.
And oh I grow cold
As I spread apart my toes
Try to grip the ground
As my shoulders implode
 Hip Hatchet's songs have seen a lot of mileage, creased and torn travel maps like the one in "Tacoma Bound": 
The highway's only lonesome
If you've got nowhere to go
I'm headed north Tacoma bound
To see an angel that I know
But it all comes back home to the indelible stamp of Bronchtein's voice, a classic folk instrument that can communicate an almost charming shyness as readily as a self-directed anger and frustration.  It's a sound akin to Stan and/or Garnet Rogers, or Bill Staines, the voice of a laborer and the ear of a great songwriter.  Truth be told, it doesn't always rain in the Northwest. 

*  Geraldine Fibbers, "Fancy"  What Part of Get Thee Gone Don't You Understand  (Sympathy For the Record Industry, 97)
*  Chris Stapleton, "Traveller"  Traveller  (Mercury, 15)
*  Dwight Yoakam, "Man of Constant Sorrow"  Second Hand Heart  (Reprise, 15)
*  Dwight Yoakam, "It Won't Hurt"  Guitars Cadillacs Etc Etc  (Reprise, 86)
*  Whitey Morgan & the 78s, "Ain't Gonna Take It Anymore"  Sonic Ranch  (Whitey Morgan, 15)
*  Boxmasters, "Piece of the Sky"  Somewhere Down the Road  (101 Ranch, 15)
*  Ray Wylie Hubbard, "Bad On Fords"  Ruffian's Misfortune  (Bordello, 15)
*  Porter, "Hardest Healin'"  This Red Mountain  (Porter, 15)
*  John Moreland, "Sad Baptist Rain"  High On Tulsa Heat  (Old Omens, 15)
*  Drive-by Truckers, "Outfit"  Decoration Day  (New West, 03)
*  Charlie Parr, "Empty Out Your Pockets"  Stumpjumper  (Red House, 15)
*  Jayhawks, "I'm Down To My Last Cigarette (live)"  Live At the Belly Up  (Belly Up, 15)
*  Spirit Family Reunion, "All the Way Back Home"  Hands Together  (SFR, 15)
*  William Elliott Whitmore, "Trouble In Your Heart"  Radium Death  (Anti, 15)
*  Kristin Diable, "Time Will Wait"  Create Your Own Mythology  (Speakeasy, 15)  D
*  Diamond Rugs, "Live and Shout It"  Cosmetics  (Sycamore, 15)
*  Lucero, "Tears Don't Matter Much (live)"  Live From Atlanta  (Liberty & Lament, 14)
*  Banditos, "Still Sober (After All These Beers)"  Banditos  (Bloodshot, 15)
*  Trampled By Turtles, "Wait So Long"  Palomino  (Banjodad, 10)
^  Hip Hatchet, "Tacoma Bound"  Hold You Like a Harness  (Hip Hatchet, 15)
*  Calexico, "Woodshed Waltz"  Edge of the Sun  (Anti, 15)
*  Allison Moorer, "Like It Used To Be"  Down To Believing  (E1, 15)

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