Authentic, Heartfelt Folk and Americana from Colorado’s Thomas Hine

17 Aug

I think for most people, experiencing an album probably starts with listening to the melodies and arrangements. Letting the music wash over you. And later — if at all — beginning to pay attention to the lyrics, peering beneath the surface of each song to find the meaning in the depths.

With many singer-songwriters, this experience may be a little more balanced, with the lyrics commanding attention in addition to the music from early on.

But every so often, an album such as Thomas Hine’s Some Novelty or Notion comes along. On this album, the lyrics go so far beyond the clever rhymes and simple ideas found in the vast majority of albums that one immediately recognizes them as poetry — as true art. And the music serves as a means of delivering these, shall we say, “notions or novelties,” to us in unexpected and unforgettable ways.

Thomas Hine is an indie folk/roots singer-songwriter from Golden, Colorado. In an increasingly glossy music industry, Hine is a sincere, humble artist. His songs have an authentic, personal quality with heartfelt lyrics backed by often simple, somewhat lo-fi arrangements.

Some Notion or Novelty includes songs that could be classified as traditional folk, Americana and even some that veer towards the experimental — with environmental sounds or featuring intriguingly complex soundscapes. One review said that Hine was dealing with some personal issues during the two years he was working on this collection, and it seems evident in the lovely, but melancholy poetry he has written.

The opener, “Before the Sun Rises,” starts with the sound of birds at sunrise. Accompanied by guitar, piano and the simplest of drumming, Hine sings, “And I’ll let the day go to hell/Sitting in my chair before the sun rises/Watching all those pretty thoughts go by/Someday I will try/To reach out and grab them.”

The second track, “Juan Ortiz,” makes reference to the Spanish soldier who was captured in Florida in 1528 by the native peoples living there, and was held for 11 years until he was freed by de Soto in 1539. “Will I ever see my home across the sea?/It’s gone from my dreams and memories/Will I ever see a face I know again?”

The fourth cut on the album carries us even further back to the reign of the Roman Empire. Poet Catullus had an often-unrequited love interest named Clodia. In “Clodia+songs,” Hines seems to reveal details from his personal life that may have been part of the turmoil he was dealing with.

“You can’t hold someone’s attention forever in a song/You can’t hold someone forever in your arms/And I can’t keep you forever in my eyes/A desire that makes me the greediest of men.” Later in the song he asks “Do you ever stand out in the sun?/Or walk beneath Jupiter at night?/Do you ever think about me and wonder/If I’m doing alright?/Or if I’m even alive?”

It’s a beautiful, but clearly dark ballad with achingly personal lyrics that provide a window into the challenges of the human experience.

Not all of the songs on Some Notion or Novelty are sad. For example, “My Nature” is a joyous musical romp that examines the circle of life and what we all go through trying to understand the meaning of existence.

But throughout, the music remains simple and satisfying; the lyrics thoughtful and introspective. Collaborating with Hine on Some Notion or Novelty are a number of instrumentalists and vocalists who add inviting depth to the songs.

This is an album that won’t make it onto very many mainstream lists, but it’s one that offers a richness and wealth of emotional experience that you won’t want to miss.



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