Cranford Hollow - Color/Sound/Renew/Revive (2017)


Written by Bradley Johnson, posted by blog admin

The fifth album from South Carolina based five piece Cranford Hollow is the natural next step in the development of a band that’s steadily progressed from a four piece traditional county/blues minded outfit into something much grander and all-encompassing. The band’s bedrock remains the same – vocalist and primary songwriter John Cranford has a voice ideally suited for his hard-bitten narratives and reflections and promotes a sound with abiding connections to various forms of Americana music. The addition of lead guitarist Yannie Reynecke brought a wild card to the band’s deck that they make just the right use of it. Cranford Hollow are never the sort of band who goes in for empty instrumental touches in some misguided attempt to prove their musical prowess; instead, they reign in their obvious talents so that they might better serve the song. Color/Sound/Renew/Revive is the band’s greatest album yet.

They serve notice early on that their vision is much wider than novices might suspect. “Songfield” has strong construction, but it’s played with such inspired looseness that it isn’t difficult to hear it as the uniquely stylized piece they intend for it to be heard as. John Cranford’s vocal growl doesn’t lack of musicality and has such an authoritative command of the songwriting that listeners will welcome early on. Violinist Eric Reid takes on a more prominent role during the second track “Long Shadows” and his dueling counterpoint with the band’s other stringed instruments provides audiences with a lot of entertainment. Cranford Hollow doesn’t necessarily turn over new ground lyrically, but Cranford shows a commitment song in, song out, to imposing his own unique personality on otherwise commonplace subjects. “Bury It Down” picks up an acoustic thread and rides it for the duration. The jangling presence of the guitars strikes a sharp contrast with Cranford’s phlegm-choked growl, but backing singers sweeten the vocal presentation and the jocular beat makes for another memorable contrast thanks to relatively dire subject matter of the song.

The eight song effort continues on an upward trajectory with the song “And Your, Brutis”. It surprisingly begins with some near prog keyboards before shifting into a mid-tempo rock jaunt. Reynecke’s lead guitar takes center stage early on and unleashes a variety of eloquent, concisely phrased guitar passages. Cranford’s voice has clearer intonation here than the earlier performances and the songwriting crescendos at all the right times. This is one of the album’s best overall tracks and deserves an equally impassioned stage reading. “Dark Turns” is an instrumental coming late on the release but packed full of the same power listeners would find in any Cranford Hollow song with vocals. The drumming is particularly solid, but Reynecke and Cranford’s second guitar prove to be an effective pairing here. The last song “Swing” has an ample amount of that thanks to top notch drumming and the guitars come together in a nicely evocative fashion. Cranford Hollow continues gaining momentum with each new release and this may prove to be the pivotal moment distancing them from their peers.