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Review: '3HATTRIO'

-  Label: 'Okehdokee Records'
-  Genre: 'Ambient' -  Release Date: '14th November 2016'

Our Rating:
How do you truly capture the feeling from where you are from?

This question had a special significance for these three musicians who grew up accustomed to desolate beauty of the desert in their homes in Southwest Utah. This unique landscape is the vast backdrop to what they unambiguously name as American Desert Music.

The three 'hats' are two older hands and one young buck.

Hal Shannon (vocals, banjo, guitar) has long been immersed in local musical, folkloric and poetry projects,

Greg Istock (vocals, double bass, percussion) is originally from Florida and has spent thirty years exploring Caribbean Music and experimental jazz.

Meanwhile, Eli Wrankle (violin) is the relative novice of the group having recently graduated in music from Southern Utah University.

The trio's third album is inspired by Edward Abbey's 1968 book Desert Solitaire and Istock adds "we wanted to make a dance album, even if it was the dance of a scorpion".

The way they transform Bob Marley's Get Up Stand Up from a call for revolutionary action into a mellow swing number is typical of the album's unhurried pacing.

The other tracks are originals apart from an arrangement of the traditional blues song Bury me Not.

It all comes together most effectively on the slow-moving grace of Eddy Mesa which, at five minutes, is the longest song.

This track shows that the strength of the trio lies in the high quality of the musicianship and begs the question as to why they don't include any instrumentals.

Although the words and vocals are not unduly intrusive they are often unnecessary distractions.

In essence, Solitaire feels like an ambient album trapped within the confines of conventional song structures.   

3hattrio's website
  author: Martin Raybould

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3HATTRIO - Solitaire