On a Golden Shore by The Hanging Stars

Release date: March 8, 2024
Label: Loose Music

I’ve been hovering over this release for some time now. It’s perfectly brilliant as it unfolds in cosmic glory, a reflection of what Americana should be. I am hard pressed to find comparisons to anyone really. There are many bands in this musical space, but most of them are not standouts like these guys. I just love the way they mesh steel guitar with slide in lovingly rendered melodies. On a Golden Shore was recorded at Edwyn Collins’ Clashnarrow Studios at Helmsdale. Sean Read produced, and overdubbing and mixing were carried out at his Famous Times studio in East London. The songs are deceptively light and cheerful, yet one listen to the lyrics will put that idea to rest.

‘Let Me Dream Of You’ is the opener, a bit of country rock with sharp lyrics and some tasteful slide. This is the way alt-country should sound, or whatever genre you want to hang on it. ‘Sweet Light’ is a pretty ballad, reminding me slightly of the beautiful work Daniel Wylie puts out with Ian Bailey. ‘Happiness Is A Bird’ is really swell, with an enticing vocal and spacey steel lines interspersed throughout the mix. ‘Disbelieving’ is a fine slice of melancholia, far better than any of the modern country laments that pass for music in the US. As I’m in this state of late, this song resonates with me. ‘Golden Shore’ is exotic and gorgeous, with its sylvan flute and some fine vocals. Possibly this is my favorite song here, and I dig the harmonies.

‘Silver Ring’ dips its toes in tropical waters and meshes it seamlessly with a song that faintly recalls late period Byrds. Lovely! ‘I Need a Good Day’ is my current song of the month, as I’m on the dole and have had some dreadful days. It sure helps me feel better. ‘No Way Spell’ is another winning tune, with fine steel work from Joe Harvey-Whyte. I adore ‘Raindrops in a Hurricane’, a song that is brimming with melodic goodness and downhearted lyrics. ‘Heart In A Box’ is the closer, shimmering and sublime in its arrangement. And oh, I love the horns. This is a wonderful album for a rainy day, curled up with your favorite pet or loved one. Simply wonderful!

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