Thomas Hine – Ledgers And Stones: Album Review

Thoroughly absorbing set of thoughtfully introspective songs from Colorado folk/roots troubadour Thomas Hine.

Release Date:  5th July 2020

Label: THM

Formats: CD, digital album

First – an introduction.  Thomas Hine is a folk/roots/Americana musician from Colorado.  He plays an impressive range of instruments – guitars, piano, bass, percussion, drums, harmonium, harmonica, mandola, glockenspiel on keyboards on this album. He also writes introspective, thoughtfully constructed lyrics, which he combines effectively with soft, tuneful melodies.  He’s also blessed with a wonderfully versatile voice with which he is capable of expressing strength and confidence or, more frequently, given the subject matter of his songs, great vulnerability.

Ledgers And Stones is Thomas’s follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2016 album, Some Notion of Novelty and contains nine excellent songs, written mainly in 2017.  For this album, Thomas is joined by collaborators Sarah Winter, whose contributions of violin, viola and stunning backing vocals add extra touches of light and passion throughout the album. Mike Pearson’s dobro is one of the album’s many outstanding features and Jason Wheeler plays drums on a couple of tracks where the normally intimate feel of the songs is expanded into a full band sound.

This is certainly an album for any connoisseur of deeply personal lyrics.  The general themes in the songs are frustration, lack of hope, impermanence and abandonment. However, the songs are phrased and delivered in a way that, despite these downbeat themes, leaves the listener somehow comforted and optimistic.  Maybe that’s due in part to the musical arrangements. The instrumentation is soft, laid back, tuneful – subtle but never sparse – and entices the listener whilst leaving the space required for contemplation of the lyrics.  The whole effect is thoroughly absorbing.

Ledgers And Stones consists of nine very good songs, all awash with sublime guitar, tasteful dobro and achingly beautiful violin and vocal harmonies.  Some songs – opening tracks Walking Through and Cemented in particular – have a Nashville C&W feel to them whilst the title track recalls (at least to my ears) the Gram Parsons of the GP album, when he was in his most frail state. Doorstep (Dark Of December) stands out for its beautiful, violin-led tune – a deeply sad song with a tune to match. Back To Life (February’s End) is perhaps the closest the album gets to a traditional folk song, with its minor-key violin accompaniment and lyric that ponders the impenetrability of a former loved one’s demeanor – a subject that will strike familiar chords for many.

But, for me at least, the outstanding tracks are Barren Daughters: a brilliant song that laments modernity and impermanence, including an expression of doubt with regard to the durability of the writer’s own legacy (all accompanied by some fantastic dobro from Mike Pearson) and Abandon. The latter is one of the songs with a band arrangement and a fascinating lyric which again examines the attachment and abandonment. They’re both top drawer songs!

Ledgers And Stones is an enjoyable, absorbing, thought-provoking and ultimately, highly comforting album.  If you’ve got a long car journey planned or a long, quiet night in, this is an album to provide you with the company and mental stimulation you need.

Listen to Walking Through, the album’s opening track, here:

Thomas Hine Online: Website / Facebook / Bandcamp

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