Hungrytown is the new self-titled offering from celebrated acoustic duo Rebecca Hall & Ken Anderson. Their deceptively simple compositions are firmly rooted in folk tradition; "in fact, Hungrytown’s music offers such an aura of authenticity–in titles and in tunes–it could be easily mistaken for original trad transcripts," declares Lee Zimmerman of Performing Songwriter, and Rachel Nones of the Feminist Review raves "Hungrytown is American folk music at its zenith." Early reviews of the CD have landed the group daily airplay on XM Radio's "The Village," and Hungrytown songs are beginning to appear on playlists across the country, including Boston's WUMB and Philadelphia's WXPN.
In Hungrytown, things are not always what they seem. In "Rose or the Briar," a Carter-Family-style parlor ballad, a young man is drawn to a beautiful girl, but finds her lovely appearance offset by her nasty disposition. "One Morning in May," conjuring '60s-era folk rock, begins with a soldier marching confidently off to what he thinks will be an quick and easy victory, only to find himself mired in an endless and pointless war. The metaphorical heart of the album, a bluegrass waltz entitled "Hungrytown Road," depicts a poor girl's longing to discover her potential beyond the boundaries of her limited and difficult life. Indeed, each character in Hungrytown is a resident–the variety of musical styles reflect each of their personalities, trials and perils. Hungrytown is a place where many of us have been, and where many of us still live.
Rebecca is an award-winning songwriter whose two previous solo albums were released to much critical acclaim. She has been dubbed "a new folk classicist" by the Boston Herald and her stark ballad "O Lord," written from the point of view of a death-row prisoner, has been covered by legendary songsmith David Olney, among others. Ken is a roots music visionary, and a self-tutored scientist of pop culture, who deftly combines disparate elements; the keening wail of a '60s folk harmonica, a rushing creek of bubbling Appalachian fingerpicking, a heartstring-tugging oboe and even a string quartet, to create the seamless musical fabric woven only in Hungrytown. He plays numerous instruments throughout the recording, as well as handling all production duties. "Anderson has a knack for crafting rich arrangements that don't clutter things up," writes Casey Rea of Seven Days, and his characteristic restraint is evident throughout the recording, lending graceful support to Rebecca's plainspoken songs.
Hungrytown was recorded up and down the east coast, between live shows, by way of their mobile studio, Song Catcher. Recording spaces included a converted barn in New York's Catskills, a double-wide in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, and an old meeting house on a Vermont hillside. Lending their talents to the production were Mike Merenda and Ruth Ungar Merenda of the folk-rock supergroup the Mammals, as well as bluegrass mainstays the Virginia Ramblers. Rebecca and Ken tour the country in the notorious Blue Meanie, a remarkable, fuel efficient, solar-paneled and, well, blue camper van designed by Ken to serve as a fully-equipped, four-season home, office, studio and Conestoga wagon for their instruments and sound system–all in under 22 feet!
Together with folk-pop icons the Kennedys and Chris Thompson, Rebecca and Ken are also members of the Strangelings, a popular folk jam band. Their debut CD, Season of the Witch, features three songs penned by Rebecca. The Strangelings were a headlining main stage act at the 2007 and 2008 Falcon Ridge Folk Festivals.