The Hackles “What A Beautiful Thing I Have Made”

Jealous Butcher Records, 2023

The title says it all.

Expanding from a duo to become a trio has worked wonders for Luke Ydstie and Kati Claborn: for their third album they’re joined, now permanently, by their neighbour, Halli Anderson from River Whyless and Horse Feathers. On the record they’re augmented by a sterling lineup of Dave Jorgensen and Bart Budwig (trumpet); Dan Hunt (drums/percussion); Ian Krist (vibraphone), Olaf Ydstie & Cooper Trail (drums) and Justin Ringle (alto horn). That smorgasbord of instruments bring an eclectic sound to this album that’s got a feel of The Roches throughout.

Things open with the wonderful ‘Damn The Word’ with Claborn on vocals, a catchy shuffle about being misunderstood and mistrusting your thoughts and words. It’s a perfect start. The instruments all blend wonderfully but it’s also got an edgy electric guitar spin. ‘James’ Drink’ is a clarinet-infused bluesy number and an ode to an old local music venue to where the group live – the Voodoo Room.  There are gorgeous harmonies here – it’s a classy song.

There’s a seventies Laurel Canyon vibe to ‘Pictures Of Elvis’ written and sung by L Ydstie and it’s about ‘not just standing by’ after a violent storm that Ydstie and Anderson experienced. ‘Water For Your Bedside’ is another catchy number by Anderson about overcoming a meltdown.

The album closes with Claborn’s beautiful ‘First Time For Everything’ which deals with the passing of her father and how she came to terms with the change and the loss. Gorgeous fingerpicking and eerie clarinet gives this a highly effective feel.

This is a lovely, varied and special album and yes, they have made a Beautiful Thing.

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