Rita Hosking might call Davis, CA home (18 km / 11 mi West of Sacramento) but the geographical and cultural influences that shape her excellent new release, Come Sunrise, could plot here anywhere between a rural West Texas roadhouse or the front porch of an Appalachian cabin.
Recorded in Austin with producer, engineer and Robert Earl Keen guitarist, Rich Brotherton and featuring some of Austin’s best musicians – Lloyd Maines on Dobro, Glenn Fukunaga on upright bass, and Danny Barnes on banjo, Warren Hood on fiddle, Brotherton plys several instruments himself and Sean Feder from Hosking’s backing band Cousin Jack on percussion and harmony vocals.
With a vocal style somewhere between Natalie Merchant and Gillian Welch Hosking sings all 11 of her original songs with a delicacy that belies the force of her delivery. This is the kind of music I imagine a few generations ago would have easily landed on bestselling Hillbilly charts before some executive in the 40’s decided the term too degrading (and probably less market-friendly) and changed the name to Country & Western.
Now this music finds its home in the Americana genre, where skilled musicians like Hosking remind us that music that tells tales of people’s lives, with instrumentation and arrangement that also hearken from that heritage, is so wholly satisfying in a world more and more addicted to entranced and irony.
The slow burners are the real stand outs. Simple pleasures yearn from the title track as Maines’ Dobro and Hood’s fiddle envelope you with the sonic equivalent of a down comforter, Montgomery Creek Blues is a dreamy pedal-steel laced tale of drunken revelry that ends in murder and Hiding Place (my hands-down favorite) is a sparkling ode to solitude that betrays a hint of menace from possible pursuer.
Precious Little, Little Joe and Holier Than Thou are straight up honky-tonkers that shoudl strike shame in the heart of every Music City big label suit.
With Come Sunrise Hosking gives us a prism that isolates the distinct historic threads of country and folk music and then combines it again
into a wholly satisfying and extraordinary body of work.