Album Reviews

3hattrio

Solitaire

Artist:     3hattrio

Album:     Solitaire

Label:     Okehdokee Records

Release Date:     09/06/2016

81

We already have desert blues and desert rock. So far we don’t have widely recognized categories like desert bluegrass or Southwestern gothic, but this dusty musical melange might leave you wondering just why the hell not. 3hattrio spins all those and more into a new and vivid niche all their own. With supple violin, twangy banjo and simple foot percussion (among other things), these fellows conjure both the blue skies of the open range and the black magic of a Delta crossroads at midnight.

The Utah trio starts with obvious sources, perhaps some Americana or old-time spirituals, but doesn’t mind tossing in the odd classical-ish line or Caribbean rhythm as well. Mandolin, double bass and wah-wah guitar are all equally at home among the cacti and tumbleweeds. The album doesn’t feel written so much as grown; these songs flow and breathe like living creatures with their own personalities.

The circular plucking and chanting of “Mojave” sounds like the voice of the desert itself, while the gritty “Range” could have come from the trenches of the Civil War. Even “Get Up Stand Up” is reimagined the way Bob Marley might have done it if he’d been from Algeria. The members of 3hattrio clearly respect the time-honored folk traditions, and don’t shy away from the darkness that comes with them either. Solitaire often feels like a bunch of songs that have been sung around prairie campfires for ages—rich, often otherworldly and still able to send a good shiver down your spine.

-Geno Thackara

Got something to say?