A mixed bag from the Kansas City musician – ’50s-style country ballads sitting alongside funky soul, blues, folk and even disco makes for a sometimes weird, sometimes wonderful record.
Scott Hrabko is a Kansas City singer-songwriter – on this double album, he’s joined by his backing band, The Rabbits. Funnily enough, the record, ‘The Wonderful World Of Scott Hrabko & The Rabbits’, is a warren of musical ideas and genres, with plenty of twists and turn – not all the songs are americana – although it’s also sprawling and with a few dead ends. At 22 tracks – an hour and a half – it’s hard work, but there are some real gems that are worth digging for.
First off, Hrabko has a great voice – a classic, velvet-like country croon that sounds like it’s returned from the ‘50s to haunt us. On opener, ‘The Wind Wants In’, a pleasant, jazzy and laidback ballad, he sings of “ghosts on the wind” and laments “what became of my beautiful day?”, but then we’re taken into more familiar Americana territory on the twangy, Cash-like boom-chicka-boom of ‘Take That, Gravity’ and the chugging country-soul-blues of ‘RSVP’, with some great, wailing, female gospel backing vocals.
The Mexican-flavoured ‘High Horse Blues’ is lovely ,tipping its cowboy hat to Marty Robbins’s gunfighter ballads, but some of the slower, ‘50s-style tunes, like ‘My Back Yard’ and ‘The Bells’, lazily drift by without making much of an impression.
They’re nicely executed, but samey, so it’s nice when Hrabko throws in a few surprises, like the heady psych-soul-funk of ‘UFOhio’ with groovy ‘60s organ, the folky and atmospheric instrumental ‘North Star’ – shades of Bert Jansch and Nick Drake – and ‘A Horse, A Horse’ which, believe it or not, has a robo-funk rhythm reminiscent of Bowie’s plastic soul period.
Like a lot of double albums, there’s filler and a lack of focus – the record loses its way halfway through. It may not all work, but ‘The Wonderful World Of Scott Hrabko & The Rabbits’ is a strange and intriguing place to hang out – you’re never quite sure what he’s going to throw into the mix (omatosis).