Hovvdy: Hovvdy

It’s been three years since the Austin, Texas duo Hovvdy released a full-length studio album, so it only makes sense that their new self-titled record, their first for Arts & Crafts, would be their longest in both running time (54 minutes) and amount of tracks (19). Fortunately, taking it all in is an easy task as the beautiful songs that make up Charlie Martin and Will Taylor’s fifth LP convey a laidback effortlessness in execution that grant the listener a similar relaxed feeling of peace and simplicity.

During the percussion-free “Big Blue”, the boys sing, “I was with my Uncle Tim, listening to bootleg The Band.” The song’s downhome lyrical style, and even the somewhat clunky use of “bootleg The Band” as opposed to, say, “bootleg Dylan” relay an undeniable sincerity. “Make Ya Proud” is an absolute stunner that pairs Hovvdy’s acoustic, country inclinations with bold drums and piano to create one of the album’s most memorable moments. Three tracks later, “Song for Pete”, a touching tribute to a grandfather, could have easily been interpreted as overly melodramatic and sappy. Instead, the vocals are delivered boldly, so much so, even sad lines like, “you stood so tall, like a window, I cried so hard, folding your clothes,” come across as heartfelt memories instead of ineffectual sentiments. The production throughout Hovvdy is stellar. The odd moments of airy studio background noise between songs impart a flowing, natural feeling that makes the listener feel as if they’re witness to a live performance taking place just for them.

Hovvdy’s latest album won’t be for everyone. If you consider bands like Wilco and My Morning Jacket too country, Will and Charlie’s style will most likely not be your cup of tea. But if you don’t mind a little slide guitar and a southern drawl, and if you’re a sucker for sensitive vocal harmonizing over acoustic guitars, Hovvdy’s self-titled album could easily become one of your most beloved listening experiences of the first half of this year.

Rating: 8.0/10

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