The new album from Lost Hollow, "Looking For Happy" is quite possibly going to be one of the most diverse releases of the year, twelve tracks that cover a host of different areas across the Americana genre and do it exceptionally well, heaven help any one who tries to pigeonhole this record. Lost Hollow are Tommy and Lorrie Harden although a whole host of Hardens are supplying backing vocals according to the sleevenotes, with Tommy as well as picking up vocals, to be found on drums, bass and keyboards, not forgetting his efforts on acoustic guitar and the pair of them are attributed as producers on this remarkable record that has been nearly three years in the making.
The album opens with the title track, a song they previewed live last year, the ukelele intro leads into Lorrie setting up an immediate upbeat feeling. Complete with a harmonica solo this really could not get things off to a better start as they list a number of things that make them happy from "daisies swaying free in the breeze". "sliding in my socks" to that "first cup of tea".
"Fly Away" with its electric guitar intro could not be any further from the opener if it tried. Tommy takes the initial vocals, in a somewhat gruff manner before Lorrie joins in on a sublime pop chorus, that is simply irresistible.
The violin intro to the third track "Paper Lanterns" sends us off in yet another musical direction, at times almost Beatlesque. It's a ballad that opens out into a song with a huge scope. Taking the roles of a couple who have reached the end of their tether, Lost Hollow lay out the pain of why things come to an end "all the tears we thought would bond us slowly broke the love we'd made" through to the realisation "we're throwing it all away" to a a full orchestral backing. It's a song on a quite epic scale,
By contrast "Oh Heart" is a subdued personal affair, with Lorrie laying down a tender vocal as she portrays someone talking to their heart as if it were a person, apologising for the various romantic scrapes that have occurred along the way, that she didn't know "He wouldn't handle you with care", begging for time "to put us back together". It addresses things on 2 levels the physical, "you keep beating i'll keep breathing" as well as the more personal level "He broke me when he broke you". It does come with the life affirming line "I can't tell you when but we are going to mend".
"Shine On" is a gentle country rocker, anchored to another copper bottomed classic singalong chorus that is instantly likable. It is upbeat in tempo and hugely spiritually uplifting - a glorious tribute to someone passed in a song that was born from something quite tragic a drink drive accident. A picture of the person is built from the opening lines "You would capture every heart from the moment they met you, you could always see the best of everything" along with the stark reality that "You left us so so sudden without warning, Like the angel you always were you're with them now". Rarely has tragedy come to be the inspiration to make something quite so beautiful, a fitting tribute indeed.
Once again the mood is changed for "Burn 'em Down" with guitars and clapping as a couple whose relationship causes so much argument is built around a still smouldering passion, "we've been at each others throats all week lobbing hate bombs every time we speak". It is a song about making up, recognizing that although things have been bad there is still a lot of passion in the relationship " We gotta choice to make save what we have or let it break".
The guitar intro in "The World Spins" is another of those perfect pieces of pop music, that causes you to rethink quite what sort of band you thought Lost Hollow were. There are undeniably elements of Fleetwood Mac in this glorious 4 minutes of beautifully crafted music with more hooks thrown in than some bands manage over a whole album.
Tommy opens "Love Can" over a strumming guitar, another song of hope, a eulogy to the power of love. " when there's nothing left to mend you - Love can". Lorrie takes over the vocals at the start of the second verse on a song that grows and grows in intensity.
This Better Be Good" start almost wistfully and dreamy - with Lorrie taking the part a woman who knows her man is a cheat and a liar but would rather be with him than without him and so keeps looking for reasons to stay, "You were a whirlwind who came in and blew me away" Lorrie details it quite blatantly "Your love is as deep as the lies that you spin" and yet despite knowing the faults - she admits "One look in those hazel eyes and I will buy all your lies". It paints a terrible dilemma "I need you to leave and I want you to stay" with Lorrie putting in a perfect vocal performance trying to capture that delicate balance.
"We Are One" is as an exhilarating celebratory Americana song as you could hope for , with everything on it harmonicas, screaming guitar solos, even a clapping country choir, "I'll be there for you to help you make it through, there's nothing we can't do - we are one Closing on studio applause and a big old drum and cymbal crash it exudes good vibrations.
"Runaway" is a slightly bizarre offering with Tommie and Lorrie taking on the parts of an eloping couple in a headlong rush to get married. Initially singing together "The time is now for for us to run away, take this wedding story on the road" over some neatly played guitar before the song speeds up considerably. It is full if lines designed to raise a smile like when they plan to wed in Vegas "Stand in front of Elvis with his bible and his pelvis". Such is the urgency they decry "I don't think I can wait another day" over a frantic 100 mph backing
The album closes with "Song To Take you Home", with a Celtic feel, it makes for a triumphant way on which to close things. Gloriously uplifting "Let's raise a glass to what will be". Musically it is once again built on a very rich palette of instrumentation with wonderful vocals never more so than the closing couplet "Take my hand and take me home, take my love where ere you go"
"Looking For Happy" is one hell of a musical journey and i for one ready to set off on it all over again