London-based folk-psych-country band The Hanging Stars return with their eclectic third studio album, A New Kind Of Sky, due out on 21 February 2019. Carrying on their exploration of transatlantic psychedelic folk and cosmic country, the new album blends twelve-string, harmony-laden lullabies with soft rock anthems to create a guilded box of bucolic folk-rock. As well as the band’s signature wistful pastoral escapism, there are lyrical concerns about the recent past; the systematic division of people, values, facts and humanity in The West in general – and the UK in particular. The band weave the same thread they have always woven but this time with a more unified vision, creating a kaleidoscopic poncho for these times.
The Hanging Stars comprise songwriter, singer and guitarist Richard Olson, Sam Ferman on bass, Paulie Cobra on drums, Patrick Ralla on guitars, keys and vocals, and renowned pedal steel player Joe Harvey-Whyte. Returning guest Collin Hegna from Brian Jonestown Massacre plays an instrument called a Marxophone on “Choir of Criers”. They also welcome Sean Read of The Rockingbirds and Dexy’s Midnight Runners, who adds horns to “Three Rolling Hills” and “I Was A Stone”.
The main bulk of the recording for the new album was done live in the studio at Echozoo in Eastbourne with Dave Lynch. For the first time, the band decided to dive straight into the recording studio following their German tour in 2018. Having lived in each other’s pockets and playing their new songs every night, the band were as tight and primed as they could possibly be. There ensued a few, very long, days of recording, capturing the essence of the band in their element.
The songwriting process was even more collaborative for this album, with the usual co-writes between Richard Olson, Sam Ferman and Patrick Ralla enhanced by Joe Harvey-White’s arrangements and Paulie Cobra’s harmonies. The biggest difference is that Sam Ferman sings lead on the first single “‘(I’ve Seen) The Summer in Her Eyes”, a song about lost love and self doubt channelled through two and a half minutes of garage pastoralism.
The album’s title track “A New Kind of Sky” tells a story from the point of view of somebody who idealises a past that never existed. The band go glam-rock on the stand-out track “I Will Please You”, a tale of a cult leader/world leader and his irresistible (for some) charm from the point-of-view of his most recent victim and “Heavy Blue” is a country music tale of drunken debauchery seen through the eyes of an inexperienced young man. The triumphant trumpet-driven song “These Rolling Hills” is a minor-key tale of a journey into the hills of Marin County, California undertaken by Paulie and Richard to visit friends Asteroid No. 4, with a most interesting outcome.
The Hanging Stars released their debut album Over the Silvery Lake in 2016, which received plaudits from broadsheets such as The Times, who described it as; “An album with enough of a hazy, sun-dappled charm to make the capital’s dreariest weather bearable”, as well as The Guardian, who said; “Mersey-laced harmonies and just a whiff of the Gun Club.” They picked up a good amount of support at 6 Music and “The House on the Hill” scored a much-coveted 10/10 by John Robb on Steve Lamacq’s Roundtable.
Their second album Songs For Somewhere Else in 2017 received critical acclaim from the likes of Uncut (Revelations article), Shindig (several features and 4* review) as well as The Quietus and The Line Of Best Fit, plus radio support from Gideon Coe and Bob Harris (they performed an Under the Apple Tree Session for Bob Harris in January 2019).
Whilst playing their own successful sold-out headline dates, the band were invited to share the stage with Teenage Fanclub, The Clientele, Wolf People, The Long Ryders and GospelbeacH, as well as playing festivals such as Liverpool’s International Festival of Psychedelia, Red Rooster, Ramblin’ Roots, UK Americana Festival and The Long Road.
A New Kind Of Sky is the sound of a band who have found their voice. Varied yet cohesive, expansive yet intimate, universal yet personal, the ten-songs shimmer with brilliance and furthers The Hanging Stars’ shining legacy.
Praise for Songs For Somewhere Else
“Laden with genre gems.” Uncut (Revelations Article)
“A startling collection of skilled songcraft.” Shindig 4*s
“These are stars that shine as much as they hang.” The Quietus