You know what’s easy to love? A two-person band. Do you know what band you’re about to love? Hymn for Her, a nomadic pair who make their home in a ’61 Bambi Airstream trailer (with their daughter) and make the kind of music you can crunch away the miles to.
Hymn For Her is Lucy Tight and Wayne Waxing and they are a tight, self-contained unit. Wayne plays acoustic guitar, harmonica, kick-drum, hi-hat, and “bang-o” (using a banjo as a drum), while Lucy plays banjo, guitar, and the broomstick-necked electric cigar-box. Together, they make quite a sound; it easily falls into that catch-all of Americana, but it’s more. It’s road music, it’s rootsy punk rock, it’s the beating heart of America (I’m just gonna call it here: they will have a devoted following in the UK, because man, those people will get it). They both sing, and Lucy has a gorgeous, angelic voice that marries Wayne’s grittier tones perfectly.
Their newest, Drive Til U Die, was produced by Vance Powell (see also Sturgill Simpson, Jack White, and Chris Stapleton) and Mitch Easter (see also R.E.M. and Let’s Active). Powell produced the stompers, of which there are sundry, and Easter embraced Hymn For Her’s softer side. It works incredibly well, and the result is a cohesive, impressive album.
Drive Til U Die kicks off with “Devil’s Train,” an immediate, grab-the-listener-by-the-collar-and-give-them-a-good-shake bluesy shout-along rocker. Listen up and buckle up because they’re about to kick your ears in the ass. The harder tracks are impressive: the epicness of “Paraguay” is reminiscent of the Call with lovely bits of surprise harmonies and smart melodic turns in the soaring voices. “Shine” has a punky heart and a wonderful gutsiness. There’s pounding piano and fuzzed-out vocals, picked guitar and a huge sound, with a bit of hipsway happening on the chorus.
The quieter tracks, too, are a treat. “Mazzy Star” is delicate but with a spine made of steel. Tight’s vocals are just lovely with a sweetness that is undeniable (and when you hear the name Mazzy Star, doesn’t it just evoke something very specific in your life? Me too). “Acetylene” is gorgeously wistful and evocative. It’s rich but gentle with a simplicity that perfectly evokes late summer nights. They do evocative well. The rolling waves of “Seas Of Croatia” are embedded in the rhythm, and it’s like a watercolor painting: not explicit, just a wash of colors and fineboned prettiness of the guitar.
You know those songs that you know by the first bar that you might end up crying during? “Onebigachinheart” is one is that song. By the time that their 102-year-old Aunt Lee joins in singing, I was a mess (add their 8-year-old daughter and I can’t stop with the crying). Gorgeously finger-picked guitar, and Tight’s beautiful voice, as well as a good message, and it’s just water works. It’s not cloying, it’s sweet.
The songs about life on the road are fantastic. “Hi Ho Silver” is a song about the upkeep of the Airstream (all I’ve ever needed to know) (I mean, it’s better than an instruction manual). It’s got a great, galloping beat and wah wah guitar. It’s charming as hell and then it ramps up even further to a full on rave up. “The Road Song” is raucous and blistering, featuring whipsaw guitar and a driving beat—an ode to not letting the grass grow under your feet (“Disappear into the night/feel them wheels hit the ground”). They make it sound so very appealing.
There’s not a miss on Drive Til U Die. Instead, it’s the sound of a pair of fine musicians, making the music that they love with an enormous amount of heart. It’s fun, it’s inspiring, and it’s a great end of summer soundtrack for your August road trip (which you’re going to want to take after you hear this. And you’ll probably want to buy an Airstream and just drive, which is totally understandable because, me too).
Drive Til U Die was released on August 12.