Promised Land  – Heathcote Hill (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Last time out I used references such as 10,000 Maniacs and Cowboy Junkies as easy labels for Heathcote Hill’s lilting, country infused charms. This time around I would also add Fleetwood Mac to that list, there is something of the Rumours era vibe seeping into the music which is never a bad thing. And if we are going to go the route of lazy journalism and merely pointing at subtle soundalikes, those aren’t bad touchstones to have if you ask me. But Heathcote Hill are their own people too and as much as it is easy to point fingers, it is better to examine what’s really going on.

And what is going on is deft and delicate stuff indeed. Hypnotic, picked rhythms lay a foundation for vocals which really connect the listener with the narrative being delivered. But the really clever thing is that as they layer on additional textures, add more instruments and introduce a beat, it is done so sparingly and with such restraint that you hardly see it happening, and that is the art of the slow build – understatement and clever editing.

Promised Land is a neat slice of folk-infused, level-headed country music, the sort that exists almost without need for generic label and instead just feels part of the tapestry of the story of America. If Americana music is defined as the sound of the country’s soul made into song, and that is certainly one way of looking at it, then Heathcote Hill certainly make Americana music. Actually they make really great Americana music.

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