HAT CHECK GIRL
Road to Red Point
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If your idea of female/male country collaboration courses toward the overwrought lyrics and contrived drama of Lady Antebellum, steer clear of Hat Check Girl; Road to Red Point is something moodier, rootsier, and more ominous. When Annie Gallup and Peter Gallway label their songs, they drag out adjectives such as “spooky” and “haunting,” and they’re not kidding. This album has quite a few songs about drifters, desperados, losers, and hard-luck folks who, as they do in “The Other Road,” tend to relive regret rather than moving on. The title track also evokes memory, but check out its crunchy bass-driven lines that evoke swamp rock and make you think that maybe an alligator or two will appear to no good end. This dark little gem of an album serves gall along with the whiskey. In “Under Those Trees” Gallway sings: “I never took to the Bible but the words ring true/It’s a hell of a story when you’re lonely or blue/Life is a hard road to travel but we struggle and try/And will sleep in comfort when we die.” How about a love song in which the lady of desire stepping from the shower is compared to Scarlett O’Hara? As you may recall, she was a romantic figure, but also a tragic one. “Remember” is also a love song, but the kind an outlaw might write. You want a nice ending? You’ll find it “Up in the Country” where “it’s colder than Satan,” and he isn’t the worst thing encountered on the road to redemption.
Gallup and Gallway gives us scorched earth country–literally in the case of “Texas is Burning,” a piece that’s a cross between chronicle, music, and Beat poetry. The entire album evokes the sort of thing Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer might have done after a weekend of reading Nietzsche. So why would anyone want to hear this? Because it’s a sonic wonderment enveloping lyrics of poetic honesty rather than canned emotion. Give this one a little time. At first, it’s quiet and creepy, but the more you listen, the more it gets under your skin and you begin to see tiny rays that pierce the darkness with hope. My hat’s off to Hat Check Girl for a bold, unconventional album. Maybe it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a potent brew nonetheless.--Rob Weir
Here's the only decent YouTube video of Hat Check Girl. This song is on the new album.