THERE HAS been an enervated, lethargic, feel to many of the albums released so far in 2020 - at least to these ears - resulting in some worthy works, which ultimately fail to fully engage.
Given the ongoing crisis of climate change, Corvid 19, Trump, Brexit, et al, this is not surprising - there seems little to be optimistic about, but in such times people turn to art or religion (or both ) for solace, for a sense there is something to keep optimistic about. This is where The Hanging Stars, a British band steeped in Americana, come in.
While not a classic in the making, it is the first album I have come across this year which has a sense of energy, purpose, and passion - even in its most languid, blissed out, moments (the lilting, waltzing psychedelia of 'I Woke Up In July' ), and culminating in the beautiful 'A New Kind Of Sky', where the "brittle and worn" narrator sets out on a journey in search of solace and the arms of a loved one. This is not escape, it is about keeping going in the hardest times.
In between we get the Byrds-like rush of 'I've Seen Summer In Her Eyes'; the anthemic country chug of 'Heavy Blue', which recalls The Band; and the exuberant, joyous 'I Will Please You' which should go down a storm at festivals. Right now, these Londoners' cosmic country sounds just like what we need.