Every once in a while I run into that moment that winding down becomes a serious option. Music certainly helps. An EP I received recently is one of those little wondermakers that begs listening and does not allow anything else. It is this simple, if I do not pay attention to House and Home it is over before I know it or ever realised that it was on. Arlo Hannigan provides the soundtrack for a late evening listening session.
What makes his EP so attractive is that nothing much is going on. He sings not unlike the younger Leonard Cohen. More like a whisper in the lower register of his voice mixed over the music that is just as subdued. If he is still be performing 50 years from now he will sound like the old Cohen sing-talking himself through his songs. J.J. Cale is another name that comes to mind in the singing.
Arlo Hannigan in an Alaskan residing in Los Angeles and has one record to his name, 'Come Up The Hill' (2011), an album that I had no way of knowing it existed. House and Home is his second release. The EP was produced by Dave Trumfio. Next to Hannigan's guitar we here keyboard and mellotron sounds by Jason Borger. The percussion is by Chris Infusio. My ears tell me that there is a female voice hiding behind the dark voice op front, but I do not have information on that.
It is not as if the California sunshine radiates through the music. Hannigan prefers to reside in the shade, with the blinds closed. His voice is dark and in one register. The music follows his emotionless voice. And then a sort of strange thing happens. The most up tempo song of the album starts playing, mind, all is relative when I write up tempo. The music is more fleshed out, including some nice lead lines on an electric guitar. "I'm in the sun", Hannigan sings. The name of the song? 'Shade'. There you go.
At the heart of every song is the acoustic guitar. Intricate finger picking patterns are played to lay accents in the music. Soft percussion is put underneath the music. Frivolity comes from the keyboards. For example an accordion in 'Little Black Box', a mellotron in 'Harness The Sun', an electric piano and synthesizer in 'Born Into Wind'. It is these sounds that make distinctions between the songs, provide them with a nice individual touch.
An EP is enough though. The six songs make a nice whole. More songs could be a long haul as in the end the atmosphere is more or less the same and I would not mind a little more happening within the songs. 'Observation' comes in time, so to speak. The riff reminds me a bit of the Meat Puppets cover on Nirvana's MTV album. A full album would need a few more songs like 'Observation' and 'Shade'.
House and Home comes in the right dosage. 24 minutes to unwind is enough. In that time space there is enough time to enjoy the music of Arlo Hannigan.
You can see Hannigan play live at the House of Blues here:
More on facebook if you like the music