The Hanging Stars “On A Golden Shore”

Loose Music, 2024

Still cosmic but branching out, The Hanging Stars continue to intrigue and amaze.

Having fashioned their most fully realised album in the shape of ‘Hollow Heart’, albeit in the depths of lockdown, The Hanging Stars returned to the place of its genesis, the remote recording studio owned by Edwyn Collins to record this follow-up, basically their version of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That said, ‘On A Golden Shore’ finds the band flexing their muscles with several of the songs less cosmic than on its predecessor and even at times almost raunchy.

The opening song ‘Let Me Dream Of You’ kicks off with a burst of angry guitar amidst pummelling drums, leading into a vortex which sounds like The Jesus & Mary Chain meeting the original Flying Burrito Brothers, a union cemented by the very short but very scorching pedal steel solo from Joe Harvey-Whyte. ‘Sweet Light’ also bursts into view with a hint of the jangled Scots pop stars Teenage Fanclub at its core, a feat repeated on ‘I Need A Good Day’ while ‘Silver Rings’ has a hint of Tropicala with its sinuous rhythm along with a plethora of entwined guitars which close the song on a decidedly Grateful Dead high. At the heart of the album is ‘Golden Shore’, a song which features pan pipes, fluttering percussion and squalling guitars with singer Richard Olsen totally in his element, a deadpan cosmic crooner unafraid to take an old blues line and make it his own when he sings “Make me a palace on your floor.” Here and elsewhere Olsen comes across as a modern poet singer in the Jim Morrison vein, albeit without the boozy machismo strut of the lizard king.

At the core the band continue to fly their freak flag high. ‘Disbelieving’ and ‘Washing Line’ are both swathes of gorgeous cosmic country rock while ‘Happiness Of Bird’ is almost too trippy for its own good with its mellotron, gliding pedal steel and excellent band harmonies. The band then hunker down for the banjo fuelled ‘No Way Spell’ while ‘Raindrop in a Hurricane’ is a delightfully whimsical slice of UK psychedelia, a song reminiscent of early Traffic. The closing song, ‘Heart In A Box’ with its horn section and confessional lyrics comes across, strangely enough, as The Hanging Stars riposte to The Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’.

While it’s not as immediate as its predecessor, ‘On A Golden Shore’ finds The Hanging Stars forging on, creating their own identity while retaining elements of their past recordings.

8/10
8/10

About Paul Kerr 439 Articles
Still searching for the Holy Grail, a 10/10 album, so keep sending them in.
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Stuartstorm

Indeed a great Album! Kind thanks for the review