Review: “Salt” by Hoots & Hellmouth

Hoots & Hellmouth’s latest record, “Salt,” makes me think too much.

It’s not because the Philadelphia foursome’s lyrics or musical subject matter is particularly deep. Instead it’s their folkie front porch sound that makes me question my own mental health.

Is my attention span shot?

In 2010, I would have eaten those crisp acoustic guitars, group sings and handclaps up like leftover birthday cake. Now, after a few years of pop culture drilling Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons and the Head and the Heart into my, um, head and my heart Hoots & Hellmouth is something I can do without.

Record Rating: 4.5 of 10

That’s where the mental health question starts coming up. I start to wonder, has the interval between liking a sound and being completely over a sound become this short for me?

Maybe – no doubt a side effect of my personal habit of hyper-consuming media – it indeed has. And if that’s the case, perhaps you’re still into that folkie sound and you’ll find Hoots & Hellmouth’s high points to be heaven.

The album is not without its strong moments. “Being Born Again,” the album’s closing track, has a catchy drum intro that covers a bit of new ground for the genre. And singer Sean Hoots has a great voice, which really shines through when he shows off his range on tracks like “The Ache.”

However, the balance of the album feels culled together from their contemporaries’ successes. For the most part, the band stays in the same, safely folk mood throughout the 40-minute album. When they do take a risk, for instance on the funky foot stomper like “Lay Low,” the result feels contrived if not outright phony.

If you’re a fan of the band or the folk revival sound, “Salt,” is one to pick up but don’t expect to hear anything fresh here.

— David A. Mann

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About hoosierhits
The music blog of the News and Tribune, Jeffersonville & New Albany, Ind.

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