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William Hut | Road Star Doolittle (Rec 90)
The title wrongfully indicates that this release exists in some Pixie-fied land, all popping and hopping indie-madness. On the contrary, this is a subdued affair with lush production and sparse instrumentation, from the lead vocalist of Poor Rich Ones (where he operates under his real name, Willy Marhaug), recasting himself in this solo side-project as some even more brooding fellow with a slightly less obnoxious hairdo. Single Scarlet opens and gives the game away immediately â?? a lazily strummed guitar, monotonous, pulsating drums, and a lovely opening couplet: "You've been my guide for so long / I've built my dreams around you." Nice. However, the next track, Belonging, ups the ante with a delicate piano suggesting a sense of comfort that the lyrics all but underline. Here, Hut thankfully avoids giving the song the full PRO vocal treatment that has become his trademark, (but can, on occasion detract from the power of the melody), instead tip-toeing around the track, making it one of the album's finest moments. It, inevitably, goes a bit downhill from here. The next track is the first of two rather tedious instrumentals, while A Better View, Too Many, and The Great Gospel are auto-pilot affairs that ultimately leaves the listener unsatisfied, knowing Hut is capable of so much more. Fortunately, out of the blue comes Dulcinea, a lovingly crafted song that can hold its own against most of Poor Rich Ones' impressive catalogue. The real highlight, however, is undoubtedly Wood Floors, a stunning version of the Lisa Germano track, in which Hut is given the chance to prove the truly remarkable beauty of his voice when given the proper material. An uneven affair, then, but certainly worth a listen for the moments of aching beauty that arise in-between the mediocrity.
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002