First released back in 1999, Hollow hasn’t been widely available in the US until now, and kudos to Future Farmer for giving this great album proper distribution beyond its Canadian origins and its British second home. Howie Beck’s expansive folk music is steeped in the new wave of singer/songwriter pop, embracing the sweeping Americana along with the panoramic soundscapes of the West Coast. Moving from the wide-open “Baby Plays Around On Me” to the funeral-paced, mournful “Scarecrow,” Beck’s songwriting is defined by a delicate expressiveness, the stripped-down epic, and finding new faith in the everyday.
But for all its whispered beauty and searing songwriting, Hollow is by no means an easy album to take in. The music is personal and intense, often dark and paranoid. The lyrics detail haunted misery and a world-weary life. But there’s a sense of hope and faith running throughout as well, a brave refusal to cave in, the pride in just getting by, and more than a depressing or plain anguished album, this is uplifting music as well, a troubled but honest album, and there’s comfort in that. Howie Beck has made a beautiful second album, and if it’s been a long time coming, it’s been well worth the wait. Stunning.
Future Farmer Recordings: http://www.futurefarmer.com