Courtesy: Robust Records
Early this past June, up-and-coming bluegrass act Hank, Pattie & The Current released its second full-length studio recording. The album, released via Robust Records, is yet another impressive effort from the Chapel Hill, N.C.-based band and secures even more the band’s place in the bluegrass world. That is thanks to musical and lyrical content throughout that ensures listeners’ engagement from beginning to end. The album’s opener ‘Daddy Prayed’ is just one of the songs featured in this record that supports that statement. It will be discussed shortly. ‘What Whiskey Can Do’ is another of the songs included in the album that supports said statement. It will be discussed later. The album’s upbeat closer ‘Not Much To Say’ supports that statement and will also be discussed later. It is hardly the last of the songs featured in this record that make the record so solid and enjoyable. Each of the numbers not discussed here support the noted statement, too. All things considered, Hold Your Head Up High proves in the end to be another solid effort from Hank, Pattie & The Current, and gives “high” hopes for this N.C.-based bluegrass band’s future.
Hank, Pattie & The Current’s sophomore album Hold Your Head Up High is a record that gives the up-and-coming bluegrass band’s members plenty of reason to hold its collective heads high. That is because it proves over the course of its 12-song sequence to be everything that a fan of the genre could ever hope for both musically and lyrically. The album’s opener ‘Daddy Prayed’ is just one of the songs included in the album that supports that statement. Musically speaking, the song’s upbeat musical arrangement puts listeners in a positive mindset from the outset. Just as interesting to note is the sense of urgency in that arrangement both in that tempo and its key. It is presented somewhere slightly between a major and minor key, giving vocalist Pattie Hopkins Kinlaw’s words their own powerful identity. Speaking of those words, the song lyrically comes across as a strong introspective piece. That is inferred as Kinlaw sings in the song’s lead verse, “I grew up in rural N.C./A block from that little white church you see…When I was a girl/When I grew up he wanted me to see the world/And I’ve been round and round/Time slowed down.” She goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “The day we met/I knew that life would change for best/Friends they pardoned me/For sins you see/Sins you see/They burdened me/They give me things/Things to believe/And I know time goes on/If I can be/Be so bold.” In the song’s final verse, she seems to pay tribute to her father as she sings, “When I get that glance/I can see I lived with no regrets/Oh, I hope you see/You live in me/Live in me.” It is as if this final statement, when joined with the rest of the song is an affirmation that her father’s efforts to raise her right paid off. At the same time, it is a proud, confident statement instead of what could have easily been some overly schmaltzy, saccharine sweet statement. Luckily that didn’t turn out to be the case lyrically or even musically. Considering that, this song proves to show a certain focus within the band in whole, making it a strong start for the album and—once again—proof of what makes this latest effort from Hank, Pattie & The Current an impressive new album. It is just one of the songs included in this record that serves that purpose, too. ‘What Whiskey Can Do’ is another example of what makes Hold Your Head Up High so enjoyable.
‘What Whiskey Can Do’ stands out among its counterparts on this new album in part because of its musical arrangement, just as with the album’s opener. The song’s musical arrangement easily lends itself to comparisons to the likes of Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe and other similar famed bluegrass acts. That is thanks to Benjamin Parker’s vocal talents and those of his fellow musicians here. Musically speaking, the combination of those parts makes this song one of the album’s most infectious and enjoyable, if only musically. Of course the song’s musical element is only one half of what makes it work so well. Its lyrical content cannot be ignored. Parker sings in the song’s lead verse, “I won’t pour out this bottle of bourbon over you/I’m still soothed by the taste…If only you knew what this whiskey could do/Before you walk out that door.” This is a classic theme not only in bluegrass, but in classic country, too. It is a theme that made the likes of Hank Williams Sr., George Strait and so many other veterans household names. Parker sings in the song’s second verse, “I can drown myself in a glass of 90 proof…I stand taller and taller and with each little bother/I take ‘em out with my bare hands.” Again, this is classic bluegrass and country through and through. When it is joined with the song’s equally old school musical throwback in its arrangement, the whole of the two makes the song one that is certain to entertain bluegrass and country fans alike, and fans of those genres of any age. That more than shows what makes this song stand out among its counterparts on this album. Even more, it becomes even more proof of what makes the album overall such a strong new effort from Hank, Pattie & The Current. It is not the last of the songs included in this record that makes the album so enjoyable either. The album’s closer, ‘Not Much To Say’ is one more example of what makes the album stand out.
‘Not Much To Say’ gives one just as much to say as the songs previously discussed here. As with those songs (and those not noted here), that is due in part to its musical arrangement. Musically speaking, this is another one of those works that throws back to the great bluegrass founders of days past. It is a fun, toe-tapping composition that offers more than its share of entertainment. It is only one part of what makes this song so entertaining. There is plenty to say about the song’s lyrical content, too. Robert Thornhill, who also handles mandolin and occasional vocal duties for the band, sings here, “Walkin’ round in the missin’ towns’/Packin’ up things but I’m doin’ fine/Carry on, oh carry on/Lookin’ back on another time/When you were mine/All dressed in white/Oh, carry on/Carry on/Well there’s not much to say/I guess things, they just work out that way.” He sings just as introspectively yet light-heartedly in the song’s second verse, accepting again life the way that it is. This is a mindset from which so many people can learn. Things happen. That’s life. That positive vibe presented in the song’s lyrical content joins with the song’s equally upbeat musical vibe to make the song in whole a great ending to the album and one more example of what makes the album stand out in whole. When it is joined with the other songs noted here and those not noted, the whole of the album proves to be a work that gives the band’s members plenty of reason to hold their collective heads up.
Hank, Pattie & the Current’s sophomore album Hold Your Head Up High is a work that presents the up-and-coming Chapel Hill, N.C.-based band as a valid act in the national, mainstream bluegrass community. That is proven time and again throughout the song’s musical arrangements and equally enjoyable lyrical content. From the introspection of the album’s opener to the old-school bluegrass and country hints of ‘What Whiskey Can Do’ and ‘Not Much To Say’ to the album’s other songs not noted here, there is plenty to appreciate about this record. That being the case, Hold Your Head Up High once again proves in the end to be a record that gives the band’s members plenty of reason to hold their heads high. It is available now. More information on Hold Your Head Up High is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:
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