by Chris Martin for The Examiner
If you have checked in on my columns from time to time then you know I really dig Some Dark Holler’s (SDH) music. They write about what they know, their personal experiences or their life, which makes you seriously wonder about SDH’s past. Hollow Chest is full of music that is raw and haunting mixed with dark lyrics that weave tales about bad decisions, loss, and death painting a grim picture about people and life in the deep south.
The album starts off with Chris Porter’s growl on the opening track “Bar Tabs” as he wails about loss and forlorn. It is a sparse tune that picks up steam and becomes more ominous as it progresses. It sets the stage for what is to come. Helen Gassenheimer and Porter’s voices create the perfect contrast on the tunes “Hollow Chest” and “Cry For Me” as they sing of death, lost love and bad decisions. Alcohol and drugs can go hand in hand with the subject matter of SDH’s music and they find a home in the songs “Sweet Red Wine” and “Pills and Kerosene” which praise the use of alcohol to dull the pain and drugs as a means to support the family. There are two tracks that showcase their songwriting skills better than anything else on the record. One is “Abigail” which looks at death from the mourner’s point of view as they dwell over a lost loved one and it being impossible to get past the fact she is gone. The other is “Owl Creek Bridge” which may be the best song SDH has written. It too deals with death but from the view point of the person that is dying and what he thinks of as the life is choked out of his body. Hollow Chest ends much like it begins with a sparse acoustic tune showcasing Porter’s vocals. On “Chords Are Always The Same” he sings about a guitar as if it were a lover and no matter how bad he treats said guitar it is always reliable and always loyal and always there for him, a fitting end to an album full of Porter’s acoustic guitar playing.
Some Dark Holler once again delivers a batch of songs that is about substance rather than style. They focus on the written word as Hollow Chest delivers deep music that makes you think about what you are listening to. While they write songs about the dark side of life they are not depressing or evil they are entertaining stories brought to life with music for us to ingest and enjoy.