The Hollering Pines “Here’s to Hoping”

Independent, 2024

Salt Lake City-based band’s fourth album sounds deeply personal from a lyrical perspective; it’s their best yet.

Artwork for The Hollering Pines album "Here's to Hoping"The Hollering Pines, hailing from Salt Lake City, take their name from a reference in a Gillian Welch lyric; “Caleb Meyer lived alone in them hollering pines“; the song is ‘Caleb Meyer‘ from the 1998 long player ‘Hell Among the Yearlings‘. ‘Here’s to Hoping‘ is the band’s fourth LP and listening back to the band’s previous output, from 2013’s debut ‘Long Nights, Short Lives and Spilled Chances‘ through to 2019’s ‘Moments in Between‘ it’s evident that on this latest release they sound mature and more self-assured than on previous outings. The band is fronted by Marie Bradshaw who contributes vocals and acoustic guitar and she is joined by Dylan Schorer on electric and lap steel guitar, M. Horton Smith (mandolin and electric guitar), and new members Marcus Bently (bass) and Jagoda on drums (there can’t be many drummers who go by a single name; Thunderstick of new wave of British heavy metal band Samson (late 1970s/early 1980s) springs to mind, but it’s not easy to list others). Former band member Kiki Sieger (who has relocated to Oregon) guests on vocals; Sieger is Bradshaw’s sister. Bradshaw has a strong voice which shows up well solo, but at points where Sieger sings along with her, the sumptious sister harmonies are a delight (Bradshaw and Sieger were previously in other bands together, such as The Folka Dots and The Souvenirs where, in both cases, harmonies were again prevalent). Other guest musicians include luminaries Greg Leisz, contributing pedal steel guitar and Phil Madeira on piano, organ and mellotron. Bradshaw, who cites John Hiatt as her “favourite musician of all time” writes all of the songs here with the exception of ‘One Too Many’ which was written by Smith.

Album opener and first single ‘Tender Heart‘ has a melody that during the verses is at times reminiscent of Sheryl Crow’s ‘Strong Enough‘. The lyrics “There are places you should know, I’ve warned you you can never go, Words said in anger are words you meant, They don’t spill out on accident” like many throughout the album betray heartbreak and pain. ‘Olive Branch‘ is the standout cut on the record; this again has pointed lyrics “Your weapon is an olive branch, Presented as a gift, Now you wear it like a crown of thorns, Like a counterfeited savior scorned” and later “I saw first hand what you had planned, And I’ll be damned if I let you, You would not take my outstretched hand, So why do I still want to save you“. The track closes with traded guitar licks over chunky riffs to fade out, this is great stuff.

Slow Learner‘ has a slower tempo, and if there is room for (slight) criticism here, it’s that the presentation could be termed ‘inoffensive’ which is somewhat at odds with the lyrics that tell a story of someone who is being taken advantage of “She is a dream for every cheat, heartbreaker, devil in disguise, Who wants to try and pick her pocket, While he looks into her eyes” and regret “Did you ever hear the one about the woman, Who always learned her lesson much too slow, Stumbling over all of her mistakes, And heartbreaks as she did go“. ‘Bitter Sweet‘ starts with a strong statement “I gave you back your ring, A long, long time ago, Since then I have never once looked back, And for a million reasons I have thanked my lucky stars for that” but later there’s doubt “Your name is on my tongue now, It tastes so bittersweet“, the track builds until it closes with more good guitar licks. Title track ‘Here’s to Hoping‘ details dark times but ends with a positive outlook “It’s gonna feel so good to feel good again, I don’t know if, I don’t know when, The clouds will bust open, But here’s to hoping” and later “My friends were calling I didn’t answer, I turned off the phone, Went back to sleep“. Then eventually there’s a change in tempo and a guitar solo, following which the mood lifts to become more positive “I went outside it was a beautiful day, It smelled like rain and the grass was wet, I don’t know how long this will last, But I’m happy to take whatever I can get“.

Born With a Job‘ is a rockier tune, incorporating some chunky guitar riffs, while ‘Another Storm‘ previously appeared on an album by The Souvenirs from 2014 ‘I Ain’t Happy Yet‘; the sister harmonies are at their best here and this version of the song sounds much more grown up than the 2014 version. ‘One Too Many‘ has a different vibe to it, more commercial sounding and reminding at times of Lone Justice’s ‘After the Flood‘ with a catchy chorus and a really nice twangy guitar solo. In comparison to some of the other songs here it could be perceived as a little throwaway, however it’s an enjoyable listen.

This is a good album, with much of the songwriting being especially good; lyrically there’s a lot of pain being shared, with the aftermath of ended relationships being aired. The playing is also very good; it’s an album that’s well worth a listen.


Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Cliff Lambeth

Good review Pete, and a nice album. At times the singer reminded me of a young Lucinda Williams! Several strong songs and a great listen.