Odetta Hartman’s second album Old Rockhounds Never Die is a bonanza of beautiful contradictions: intimate yet fiercely internationalist, spiritual and yet tangible, sweet and also sexy. It convenes with the ghosts of the past while marching relentlessly forwards. Drawn from experiences as far-flung as riding a train from San Francisco to Chicago with an old-style, rootin'-tootin' cowboy for company (Cowboy Song), to experiencing the intense natural beauty of Icelandic waterfalls (Dettifoss), it’s a record that taps into the musical traditions of the past while being a collection of songs about living in the moment. Odetta plays all the instruments on this and her debut 222, which made problematic the changeovers between songs when playing live.
It makes for a strangely intimate listen: tingly and a little tipsy: an album for twilight, sitting within the nocturnal hinterland between dusk and somnambulance - candlelit and confidential - a time for stories and secrets. The mix of manipulated 21st century beats and the musical traditions of centuries meet at a crossroads and consummate their curiosity without inhibition. It’ll probably not surprise anyone listening to the album then that its a co-production. Odetta writes and performs all the songs while her partner Jack Inslee is in the background bringing the digital dark arts. Experimenting with found sounds and foley, the two have developed a sonic vernacular built around playing around with a-typical instruments. If fun is the operative word, then it should also be noted that Old Rockhounds Never Die is an album featuring a dust-bowl murder ballad called Misery replete with gunshots. With Odetta Hartman it's always about those beautiful contradictions.
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