Album review

The Moonlighters : Hello Heartstring
Onliest Records

The Moonlighters : Hello HeartstringTraditional Hawaiian pop straight out of New York City might be considered unlikely, but the fact that The Moonlighters featured former Helmet bassist Henry Bogdan on lap steel guitar tipped this one over into The Twilight Zone for me. Time to investigate . . .
    The Moonlighters are truly a 180 degree turn for Bogdan, who has turned his back on Helmet's post hardcore stylings to explore the kind of music which I normally only get to hear when there's an Elvis movie on TV. Vocals are provided by the combination of ex-Pain Teens frontwoman Bliss Blood and the sultry Carla Murray, on both original compositions and a selection of in-keeping covers ranging as far back as the 1920s. To the majority of us not immersed in Hawaiian culture, the difference is going to be purely academic.

Debut CD Dreamland embraced a pop-oriented sound that threatened to do for traditional Hawaiian music what The Brian Setzer Orchestra have done for vintage swing; bring it to a whole new audience.
    Hello Heartstring is for the most part a more sedate affair, embracing jazz and blues to broaden The Moonlighters' scope. While the 17 tracks on offer here offer few surprises, the vocals fit the mood perfectly, and the musicianship is difficult to fault. Highlights have got to be the lazy Twilight In Flight and the mischievous title track, which could even be accused of incorporating bluegrass into its melting pot of influences.
    While The Moonlighters are far more than simply Hawaiian revivalists, it's fair to say that an appreciation for their first love is pretty mandatory to get the most out of this disc. It's quality stuff though, and their live reputation preceeds them. So if you ever happen to be in the vicinity of New York and fancy something a little different . . .

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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