Hatful Of Rain

Songs Of The Lost & Found

(Long Way Home Music)

I love the name of this group – it conjures up a street busker keeping on performing in inclement weather. So here is a new album, the sonic ingredients including vocals, the expected roots instrumentation plus lyrics that hinge on a lot of current concerns – I WILL not use the word ‘issues’! – make up the brew captured here.

The act already has some weight in folk / acoustic / Americana circles, having formed in 2011 to some acclaim. They are known to use the old all-round-one mike recording technique. In a way I think of them as folk’s answer to Squeeze but that’s no attempt to pigeonhole the group in any way, just to nod to their lyrical aspirations. If our TV here in the UK was run by better people then this is the kind of group we would all know more about. Whereas any t**t that’s spent five minutes with Kanye West gets the spotlight..gggrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

First cut Start Again commences with tinkling banjo before a solemn band sound drifts in, with a Chloe Overton vocal that is clear, winsome and haunting. The lyric seems to be about the pain of displacement. Phil Jones’ stand-up bass pumps along as the refugee’s plight tale unfolds. James Shenton’s fiddle has an elegant pleading sound, here. Fred Gregory plays guitar and mandolin in the outfit. So far, so miserable…just kidding, it’s a memorable and inspired composition.

Where There’s Life follows, a rolling melody that makes the feet tap and the head nod. This naturally tuneful ambience is so catchy. Overton’s voice is free of affectation or cod-Joni octave leaping that spoils so much music in this sphere. The recording crystal-clear so no words are lost to the listener. The fiddle break is followed by bottom-of-the-neck guitar. I am reminded that I do like story songs, as long as they’re not mired in Fair Maiiiidens and Wicked Poachers, that is. A martial tempo brings in Devils Dyke which evokes vintage Fairport. Had me reaching for a Fender which is why they ought to ban me from attending any live shows!

Down In The Town has a smiling sway of a tempo and a male vocal lead, a lovely song and beautifully sung and played. Won’t Be Druv gives is banjo in a jig type tempo and sounding pretty Appalachian to me. Gives pictures of twin sisters in gingham dresses flirting with blokes who fit horseshoes…not my bag! On to Sinking Like A Stone which is not about the Liberal Democrats but a gentle philosophical stroll taken at a Heaven’s Door pace to start. Maybe the best Chloe vocal on this collection, fluid and beguiling. I Thought You Would Live is sung in a husky tone and for some reason puts me in mind of John Prine.

Gathering Wood is stealthy, fiddle to the fore and would make a good set-opener, I venture. It seems to looking for a countryside documentary. But For You is a relaxed folky tune with Shenton piano I think. Overton handles the vocal lament well. Ponderosa Pine is jaunty country rock in acoustic vein and a good inclusion, these sets need some uptempo interludes. Oh The Night twinkles away on its own cloud and again is well-sung. It settles into a slow waltz and is probably a live favourite. Last track Collared Dove is a fiddle-led lullaby to these ears and a gentle way to end proceedings.

A folk crew with their own sound and a strong vocal presence, probably deserving a wider audience than folk clubs will afford them. No, make that definitely…

Pete Sargeant


(Many thanks to Kairen and Stevie)

Hatful Of Rain's new studio album 'Songs Of The Lost And Found' is released on Sunday 1st July 2018 on Long Way Home Music.

For tour dates and more information visit the band's official website here: http://bit.ly/2y1KeyQ

Hatful Of Rain