Hoots & Hellmouth : Salt

Hoots & Hellmouth clean-up quite nicely.

The roots crew’s previous albums were unwieldy, full of loose sing-alongs and rambunctious stringed breakdowns. But the first notes of “Why You Want to Go There,” the lead track from Salt, signal a change in current, the Pennsylvania collective tuned up and tight. That’s not to say that the cemetery choruses found on the debut have disappeared. They haven’t, and “Lay Low” shakes and shimmies with a chain gang rhythm and a multi-part chorus that enlivens the wiry guitar’s steady pulse. Where Salt truly shines, though, is in the more delicate compositions; the modest jubilee of “Apple Like a Wrecking Ball, and the playful finger-picking of “The Ache” are outstanding. Call it what you will, but I say it is damn near perfect.

Rock and roll has always felt unkempt, but these musicians are easing  into a more mature sound that suits them well. Salt is deliberate, self-aware, and, call me crazy, but I believe that Hoots & Hellmouth are ready to make their mark.

Salt is out now on sonaBLAST.