SOUND ADVICE: Belong to the Land finds The Hollows in full voice
By DAVID MALACHOWSKI
With their beards and hair, it’s not surprising to learn The Hollows are a roots rock band based in Brooklyn. That said, they still have ties to this area, as their freewheeling CD was recorded at The Clubhouse in Rhinebeck.
Like The Band, there’s no designated front man. In ways, it’s like six front men: Justin Aaronson, Jeffery Kurtze, Daniel Kwiatkowski, Rob Morrison, David Paarlberg and Erik Saxvik. who have their way with mandolins, banjos, accordions, harmonicas and found objects. Powered by a bubbly banjo and earnest vocals, this collection of tunes kicks off with the majestic “Basilica,” as they sing of meeting Saint Peter and “about the days, that made you old.”
Everybody joins in on gang vocals. The acoustic-based instrumentation songs are more organic than most, even when electric guitars pepper the mix, like in the rollicking “Youngblood,” in which they sing, “You can’t start a fire with wet wood.”
The banjo-driven “Josephine” is a chorus of unison voices and a real toe-tapper. The forceful “Three Months/Three Years” is pushed by a deep-throated vocal delivery, while the deeper “Poor Eyes” (for which there is a clever YouTube video) floats hauntingly. “Mad As Dogs” is near-perfection, as layers of wooden instruments provided the bed for a floating falsetto lead vocal and works it’s way up to a catchy chorus that’s radio-ready. The front porch pickin’ “Old Brown Dog” is a highlight, as is “There’s fire down below, and the devil he don’t like rain.” The majestic “Sycamore” closes the journey in dreamy style.
The young band owes much to the old ones, yet this outstanding offering shows good pure music still grows when properly sowed.
(This article originally appeared in print and online here.)