[5 August 2014]
Portland, Oregon-based Hook and Anchor appears to be a side project of the band Blind Pilot. After that outfit’s Kati Claborn was sitting on a pile of unused songs, a chance meeting with music veteran Erik Clampitt, who was looking for material and musicians to play a few gigs, led to the culmination of this new group. The end result is a glorious slice of good ol’ Americana with a classic rock edge. “Wild Wind”, in particular, sounds like a lost nugget from Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours sessions, and even the vocals closely resemble Lindsey Buckingham’s. However, all of the opening salvo of songs are great. “Famously Easy”, which opens the album, has a Peter Gunn theme stagger to it in its stuttering guitars. And “Concerning Spectral Pinching” has a very old time country feel to it, before erupting into a volcanic version of a Johnny Cash song.
However, after you get past “Hammer”, the mid-way point of the album, much of the record’s best material is behind it. In fact, the album seems to slow down a fair bit, and this bogs down some of the fiery enjoyment. Despite the lack of stellar material in the Back Forty, Hook and Anchor is an enjoyable album. And the album does close on a high note with the gentle, then churning “Rock Salt and Nails”. Essentially, Hook and Anchor is worthy for those looking for some great country rock, complete with fiddles and banjos. That it falters a bit in the last half of the disc just goes to show not everything that you sit on that’s not used isn’t always gold. Still, Hook and Anchor is enjoyable enough, and worthy for Americana fans who like some power and heft to country songwriting.