Sarah Smith, Daniel Hales, and the frost heaves bring down-home sound to pair of local releases
Sarah Smith/ Hoonah
Delicate and powerful – two words to describe both singer/songwriter Sarah Smith (aka Hoonah) and the unique sound found on the PVPA grad’s first full-length release. Though musically the album consists largely of soft finger-picked melodies and playful vocals, tracks like “Primitive Patches” evoke strong emotions amidst ominous piano chords and raw lyrics. Elsewhere, Smith isn’t afraid to put her heart on her sleeve with lines inspired by relationships and nature. “Little Monster” even includes a mention of photosynthesis, while “Ike” details the loss of a beloved pet. At times rhythms and words can pile messily on top of one another, but despite such pitfalls Smith’s tone is never less than charming. “I like stories,” she says. “I like hearing them and telling them. I think that people who like my music like that it’s personal and about me but also something that they can relate to in some way.”
“It’s our best door yet,” Greenfield singer and guitarist Hales says of his band’s latest effort. And for listeners, this means an eclectic mix of college/indie rock, Americana, folk, psychedelia, soul and funk. Album opener “Halo Over My Horns” begins with a pleasant guitar intro before erupting into an upbeat rocker, while two versions of the record’s title track give alternate readings of a song that is revealed to be equal parts catchy sing-along and budding epic. “Singing in the Breakdown Lane” compliments lyrics about car trouble with a hard-charging country chorus. And “Braille For God” finds Hales employing a Michael Stipe-like delivery over muted percussion. Though some might gripe over the lack of a dominant musical style, repeat listens continually reveal hidden treasures. Whether it’s the scratches buried within the mix of “All My Best Worrying” or the sitar flourishes within “Present Perfect Tents,” fans will enjoy digging deeper.
Watch the promotional video for “You Make A Better Door Than A Window” by Daniel Hales, and the frost heaves here: