Lee Hunter & The Gatherers
Between Nothing All
Bird Tale Records
Quality Americana, Folk and What We Used to Call ‘Bedsit Music’.
It’s been a long slog from the day I finally broke free from writing reviews for an unappreciative website/magazine and flying solo as the Rocking Magpie on my own. From Day #1 I presumed I could push out a review a day, Monday – Friday; and here we are 10 years later and I have to dismiss a lot more albums than the ‘team’ can actually listen to and then write insightful reviews after actually ‘listening’ to the music.
With no disrespect to the Major Labels we now work with; nothing excites me more than receiving a courteous e-mail from an artist asking if we will listen to their self-released album … which is what we have here from a friend of a friend who recommended RMHQ to her.
What little I know about Lee Hunter; and I really don’t need to know much more is that she lives in Jacksonville and has been ‘making music’ for a good few years now.
So with no pre-conceived ideas Track #1, I Want To Know Your Story is/was an absolute delight, Lee Hunter’s voice isn’t as sad as the song may suggest but strong and wise keeping the listener’s attention from start to finish.
This is followed by the wistful and piano led The Sycamores Are Turning; when it feels like Lee is using nature as a metaphor for life; and if I didn’t know better she sounds like current crop of cool singer-songwriters I’m listening to from Canada.
Even the first time I played this album, the songs felt like I’d known them forever; as Lee glides between Americana, American Folk and what we used to call ‘bedsit music’ with ease.
Whoever arranged these songs has done a great job; as Ms Hunter’s supporting musicians whom I’ve never heard of are quite exceptional; only ever adding subtle flourishes to their combined depth in the background that pushes Lee’s gorgeous vocals to the fore.
I’m mostly thinking about Joe Craven’s sweet violin on Listen and later the piano solo and pedal-steel that cuts through For a Little While too; but there are other examples too.
Lee Hunter’s ‘Folk background’ comes to the fore on tracks #5 & #6; My Johnny Was a Shoemaker and The Pirate and his Ship; which are both swathed in a Sothern Gothic blanket to give them a contemporary Americana ‘feel’.
I love a good ‘cover song’ and Lee Hunter certainly doesn’t disappoint on her re-make of Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine which caught me by surprise the first time I played it and let out a loud “Oooooh” much to Mrs Magpie’s delight.
While this primarily an album for kicking back and immersing yourself in; there are still a couple more songs that stand out to me and therefore tie to be my Favourite Songs.
The intense Ready For The Storm again, sounds like it comes from a Folk heritage (reminding me of British acts Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention) as the electric guitar and violin fight for dominance as Lee Hunter takes what could be an ordinary song into a whole new arena with her expressive vocals.
The other is most certainly a modern Americana Folk Tale; as Out Of The Shadow makes you sit and listen intently in the way Gretchen Peters and Mary Gauthier do; and this song certainly sits alongside the best of their work in my humble opinion.
As I implied earlier, I love receiving albums from ‘Household Name’ acts from big labels; but nothing excites me more than discovering singers, songwriters and musical acts like Lee Hunter; and it makes the long hours listening to ‘average music’ worth it when a pearl pops into my life like this album has.
Released October 2022
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