So one of the albums that I’ve been listening to this week is Rita Hosking’s 2009 release Come Sunrise. I came across the album because it is currently number 46 on the Roots Music Report – Folk Chart. The album was nominated as “Best Country Album” in the 2010 Independent Music Awards. While she hails from Davis, California this album has it’s sound firmly planted in the hills of Appalachia and Texas and part of that may be a result of the producer, engineer and Robert Earl Keen guitarist, Rich Brotherton and the fact that the album features some of Austin’s best musicians – Lloyd Maines on Dobro, Glenn Fukunaga on upright bass, and Danny Barnes on banjo, Warren Hood on fiddle,and Brotherton who plays several instruments himself and Sean Feder from Hosking’s backing band Cousin Jack on percussion and harmony vocals. But then it may just be what she grew up listening to. On her myspace page here’s what she says about her influences:
Well, Mom and Dad raised me in the mountains, and then they encouraged me to go to college where I met all these freaky people that made me want to play music. I think the strongest influence for me is the old home-place, history and people. (At least that’s what I feel when I’m playing.) Musicians or types of music I can list are: The Mountaineers (old-time band from when/where I grew up) (you can read the about rest of her influences on her myspace page)
Aside from the fine vocals and songwriting the thing I that impressed me about this album was the music. The musical arrangements on all eleven songs are perfect the fiddle, pedal steel, and dobro come in just it the right times to accentuate and add to the song. I guess it doesn’t hurt to have pros like Brotherton and Maines working on the album.
At times Hosking’s vocals remind me of Iris Dement, particularly on one of my favorite tracks “Little Joe”. Others say that her vocal style lies somewhere between Natalie Merchant and Gillian Welch. Again from her myspace page:
“Rita Hosking has one of those perfectly imperfect voices necessary to do folk music right. An overtrained or flawless vibrato can ruin a good tune about broken lives or crossing over or prison wardens who are happiest when the jailhouse is full. But Hosking keeps it beautifully raw and real in the pitchy tradition of Emmylou Harris or Lucinda Williams. Musically, her bluegrass-tinged performances hearken back to the best of American music without mimicking the greats. Close harmonies and strong backup provided by her band, Cousin Jack, round out a sound rooted firmly in traditional music but distinct to an artist with a particular lyrical love for the mountains and the lives they envelop.” –Adrienne van der Valk for the Eugene Weekly
Standout tracks for me include the title track “Come Sunrise” with a nice fiddling on the intro and throughout the track by Warren Hood, “Precious Little”, “Holier than Thou” and the closing track “I’m Going Home”. But all the tracks are good and I’m sure that other listeners will have different favorites!
Here’s Rita and Cousin Jack performing “I’m Going Home”