3hattrio – Solitaire (2016)

Posted by Green on March 4, 2018as

320 kbps | 79 MB | LINKS

The dust has barely settled on 3hattrio‘s Dark Desert Night (reviewed here) and here are Hal Canon, Greg Istock and Eli Wrankle already back with their third album Solitaire, the arid imagery inspired by their red-rock southern Utah base carrying over into a title derived, as the sleeve notes state, from Edward Abbey’s 1968 book about dryland ecosystems, Desert Solitaire.

Their stringband sound is again parched, but hot and vibrant, Cannon saying they set out to make this their dance album (“even if was the dance of a Scorpion”), opening with the throbbing Texas Time Traveler which sets new lyrics – croaky mid-song scat included – to a traditional African-American number. From here they move to border country gospel with Rose, its mandolin and violin backing conjuring the widescreen vistas of classic Westerns, getting bluesier on the sparse, lost love desolation of What Can You Do.

There are two non-originals here, the first something of a genre-blending surprise in the shape of a bluegrass slurringly sung restyling of Bob Marley’s hypnotic Get Up Stand Up with Cannon on claw-hammer banjo. Likewise, while the second, album closer Bury Me Not, may be more within expectations, they trio still put their own spin on this traditional cowboy tune with a bone dry, slow and somber arrangement dominated by brooding skeletal acoustic bass and ghostly electronic wind effects with the faint distorted sound of what may well be a funeral prayer in the fading moments.

The other credits are shared between Cannon and Istock, both together and individually, Mojave a (save for some scat singing towards the end) pizzicato bass, banjo and fiddle instrumental, its musical framework seemingly extending into the percussive itch of the riff circling Should I, the blues lyrics feeling almost extemporised.

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