London-based folk-psych-country band The Hanging Stars return with their third studio album, ‘A New Kind Of Sky’, due out on 21 February 2020. They celebrate the launch of the new record with a great double bill featuring Americana-UK faves, GospelbeacH, at London’s Moth Club on 26th February.
Carrying on their exploration of transatlantic psychedelic folk and cosmic country, ‘A New Kind of Sky’ blends twelve-string, harmony-laden lullabies with soft rock anthems to create their own version of bucolic folk-rock. As well as the band’s signature wistful pastoral escapism, there are lyrical concerns about the recent past; the systematic division of people, values, facts and humanity in The West in general – and the UK in particular.
The Hanging Stars released their debut album ‘Over the Silvery Lake’ to critical album in 2016 and its follow up ‘Songs For Somewhere Else’ which came out in 2017 was equally warmly received, with David Cowling of AUK saying: “The Hanging Stars are carving out a nice niche for themselves. They sit somewhere between the Broken Family Band and the Rockingbirds with a dash of psychedelic hot sauce. At their most esoteric they are able to combine traditional Country sounds with something a little less traditional… This is a record full of warmth that delivers on the promise of their debut: the Hanging Stars are starting to shine brightly”.
The Hanging Stars comprise songwriter, singer and guitarist Richard Olson, Sam Ferman on bass, Paulie Cobra on drums, Patrick Ralla on guitars, keys and vocals, and renowned pedal steel player Joe Harvey-Whyte. Returning guest Collin Hegna from Brian Jonestown Massacre plays an instrument called a Marxophone on the song, ‘Choir of Criers’. The record also features Sean Read of The Rockingbirds and Dexy’s Midnight Runners, who adds horns to ‘Three Rolling Hills’ and ‘I Was A Stone’.
The main bulk of the recording for the new album was done live in the studio at Echozoo in Eastbourne with Dave Lynch. For the first time, the band decided to dive straight into the recording studio following their German tour in 2018.
The songwriting process for the new record is said to have been more collaborative than usual, with the usual co-writes between Richard Olson, Sam Ferman and Patrick Ralla enhanced by Joe Harvey-White’s arrangements and Paulie Cobra’s harmonies. The biggest difference is that Sam Ferman sings lead on the first single ‘(I’ve Seen) The Summer in Her Eyes’, a song about lost love and self doubt channelled through two and a half minutes of garage pastoralism.
The album’s title track ‘A New Kind of Sky’ tells a story from the point of view of somebody who idealises a past that never existed. The band go glam-rock on the track ‘I Will Please You’, a tale of a cult leader/world leader and his irresistible (for some) charm from the point-of-view of his most recent victim and ‘Heavy Blue’ is a country music tale of drunken debauchery seen through the eyes of an inexperienced young man. The trumpet-driven song ‘These Rolling Hills’ is a minor-key tale of a journey into the hills of Marin County, California undertaken by Paulie and Richard to visit friends Asteroid No. 4.
The album launch night is on 26th February at the Moth Club in Hackney, London, followed by a further 12 dates just announced:
19/3 – Nottingham- Old Cold Store
20/3 – Sheffield – The Shakespeare
21/3 – Newcastle – The Brandling Villa (Free Entry)
15/4 – Newport – Le Pub
16/4 – Manchester – The Castle
17/4 – Todmorden – The Golden Lion
18/4 – Bexhill on Sea – Record Shop Day at Music’s Not Dead
25/4 – High Wycombe – Ramblin’ Roots Revue
9/5 – London – Daylight Music at Union Chapel
26/5 – Liverpool – Violette Records at Studio 2, Parr Street
3/7 – Hastings Americana Festival (The Jenny Lind)
4/7 – Hastings Americana Festival (The Stag Inn)
‘A New Kind Of Sky’ is out on Crimson Crow on 21st February 2020.
Photo: Paul Kelly