How Many Times
(Full Time Hobby(UK) / Father/Daughter(US))
If a picture is worth a fair few words, maybe not as many as Telly Savalas maintained, but a fair few for sure, then we swooned over Esther Rose the moment we saw her in her kitchen with her ancient Gibson ES120 guitar, wait, maybe it was the guitar that got the talking going, and as we inferred from that photo, Esther Rose knows her country onions and that was before we’d even heard a note. So true!
Esther's last long player, You Made It This Far was high on our list of top 20 LPs from 2019 and should’ve been higher still, but I never get what I want around here. I’d hope to see How Many Times climb higher in our end of year list that the last record. (DM to list keeper Jason...)
How Many Times is Esther’s third LP has everything a record needs and nothing that it doesn't. The fiddle begins by winding us in. You can never be quite sure of where the characters in Esther’s songs will end up. In songs without names, in deserts without rain, she sings. With heartaches to be shucked off and move on to be made. A lot of stories seem to start out pretty well, with promise of good fortune, it’s not that far from Craig Finn written on personal stationary instead of under punk rock dream stadium lights. Although fewer people end up in hospital. Or, or... Something about her voice makes me think this is the day before these guys end up mixed up with some Willy Vlautin small town characters, sometimes despite the bonhomie there’s that nagging sense that not everything that ends well, ends well… But still there's joy and poptimism is every tune.
The songs here, the songwriting, the instrumentation, the playing and production and of course the ease with which her voice swirls high above are all ratcheted up several notches from You Made It This Far. Oh. And, can I just say, Esther Rose will only sound old-timey if you are actually hellbent on being young-timey solely. Most everyone else will hear a woman at ease at the peak of her powers, songs smelted in a country storytelling foundry, that idiom, simmering and reduced to their essential essence and poured richly, mainlined into that traditional storytelling vein, refreshed a-new by the beautifully authentic voice of Esther Rose and the playing of her super band.
There is so much to love here, it’s a great treat.