Hold You Like a Harness
Complex Stories of Life, Love, Heartbreak and Faith.
Hip Hatchet is the strange moniker for singer-songwriter Phillipe Bronchtein; possibly a native of Portland Oregon but his background is all a bit vague; so let’s quickly move on to the music.
It’s certainly difficult to pigeonhole this music as, while it has it’s roots in American Folk music it drifts across the boundaries of the Blues and even Lounge Jazz at times. The supporting musicians are all superb with the piano, violin and clarinet sounding almost Classical at times.
Bronchtein’s world weary and husky voice is haunting on opening track Hold You Like a Harness; a song that, made me think of early Neil Diamond for some bizarre reason.
In the best tradition of the 60’s troubadours Bronchtein is first and foremost a storyteller; picking up snippets of people’s lives he comes across on his travels and weaves them into intricately crafted Folk songs.
It’s taken a while to work out why I like this album; and I do and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s under-produced, allowing Bronchtein’s voice to build and the stories to evolves. The best examples are Words of Wisdom, which is just the singer and a piano; and Cars Look Like Crying, which has a searing pedal steel and a story Townes Van Zandt would have been very proud of.
To prove my point further the single Cowards Luck sounds like a potentially great song; radio-friendly even with that leathery voice allowed to lead as a whole host of things are going on in the background; but never taking away from the song itself.
That said; Bronchtein isn’t a whiny singer-songwriter; far from it. On Ladies Night and the band and him really rock out and later on Father Redemption they take a Bluegrass song and set a fire under it creating an old-fashioned toe tapper.
This is Hip Hatchet’s fourth album and the first to cross my radar but I doubt it will be the last.
UK Release September 4th 2015