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Hotels and Highways – “Lost River” Review

Hotels and Highways debut album “Lost River” is a right old shin-dig of an album. Prepare – just like their press photo – to be tapping away on your porch with a beer, a tambourine and a happy clap.

Opener “Train Whistle” is a great alt-country anthem with plenty of twanging guitars, bluesy almost honky-tonk piano workings and a real country twist vocal delivery. I can guarantee you to be at least tapping a foot by half way! “Work it Out” is much more of a lighter swayer laying on a beautiful dual vocal of Lisa and Patrick and they both bounce off each other beautifully and naturally. There’s plenty of vocal gymnastics going on but it is always with sincerity and never for show. “Meant To Be” has a certain plodding nature to it that would be great in an Irish pub! In fact the whole album holds a certain reflective 11pm pub last few drinks for the quiet people mood. Never sad, never delirious but somewhat meaningful. “Heaven Knows” is a beautiful guitar/piano led track which showcases a softer side to the band. Patrick, Lisa and Syd’s voices are achingly enchanting and this is a real favourite from the album.

“Night Song” is the epic seven minute song on the album. It has a serene lead in as the track slowly evolves from a simple melody into a lush warm ballad in the middle. Once you’ve been serenaded with the beauty of that the beginning melody returns in a more epic reprise. It’s a great track that deserves a lot of attention. “Twenty Questions” sounds like a lost David Grey song! Even Patrick’s voice takes on a similar tonal quality. The trio’s vocal adaptability is amazing throughout the album. “Figueroa” is a calm little ditty that’s both sweet and charming. “People Have Spoken” takes you into a smokey jazz night club. Out comes the hushed brass, electric piano and husky vocals. It sounds like it’d be perfect for a film noir motion picture. The excellently titled “Nothing Hurts Like Nothing” returns to folksy country roots while “Live Now” adds a more rockier element to the proceedings. If you wanted to find a track to start with, this would be a good start and is definitely single material as its very radio friendly. “Soul” is a funky rock out finale which is full of bounce, spark and a cheeky grin. It doesn’t break out into a big finale until the very end but its the only part in the album where everything seems to burst into full flow and makes for a jubilent end. A fantastic “Nothing Hurts (Reprise)” is a great fun rendition of the earlier track. It really rounds off the whole albums atmosphere perfectly.

“Lost Rivers” really does sound like what happens when three friends get together and just have an absolute blast. Each song is natural, free of over production or over complexity. It’s just pure good fun music. Best listened to with a pint in a beer garden, this album could easily be a favourite soundtrack a thousand summer road trips.

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