Ash Hunter: Rural Music

review hunterB x1 cong

This came via Wedge at A&A Music so we weren’t expecting much: in fact it’s wonderful. Overall the vibe reminded us of Traffic’s mix of folk and jazz, from an era when people used to be optimistic about putting the world to rights with a few good ideas and a steady supply of weed. It would be the acoustic side of Traffic, so think more 40,000 Headmen than the rockier stuff.
Hunter is from Knutsford and writes gentle tunes that engage the listener. He may have done the album without any big label support, but it’s a rich and layered sound, even though it’s mostly him and his guitar. Given the sound he creates, you might be forced to compare him with Nick Drake but his voice is more upbeat than Drake’s, while sounding reflective.
We’ve got no lyrics but the tracks (as the name might suggest) have a rustic feel, opener May Day, a lovely summery song, onwards. Coming from Knutsford a song about a motorway is not unexpected — “You drop me off at the service station/ Watch the motorway at night” and low flying planes, and other local familiarities are also referenced. Sweet Care has a more rolling beat and nods more towards country than folk, while Grand England is about a visit to the seaside.
As well as Hunter’s guitar, there’s cello, accordion, slide guitar and trumpet, the latter on the trad jazz-tinged George And The Dragon.
While on one hand it’s much of a muchness — gentle folk pop — on the other it’s hard to say anything bad about this. It’s a quirky album and because of that it’s got a freshness about it, almost a naivety, that’s very endearing. Jolly good show, Mr Hunter.
review hunterA x1 cong

Available now at A&A Music in Congleton.

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