Album review: These Idle Hands | Petrichor

For cinematic alt-folk collective These Idle Hands, it’s the less traversed, twilight back-roads that offer the truth and the salvation. Having been anything but idle during these COVID-19 times, the six piece have rapidly followed up their recent twin-single offering with a full-length release that will surely establish their presence as one of this country’s finest purveyors of darkly rustic, Americana-influenced sounds.

The album’s title, ‘Petrichor’ refers to the sweet, earthy scent that hangs in the air following a period of rain. It’s also an apt descriptor for the 12 evocative numbers that constitute this, their debut album. Unfurling as a delightfully cohesive listening experience, it’s book-ended by a pair of scene setting and sun setting haunting instrumental numbers, entitled ‘At Dusk’.

Vocalist and song-writer Murray Webber possesses a worldly, rich timbre to his vocals, underpinning the evocative nature of the band’s signature sound. A talented support cast of musicians flesh out these compositions with washes of folk instrumentation, violin and banjo featuring prominently on numbers such as the moving ‘Week About’ and impressive single, ‘Just Maybe’.

A moody, gothic-noir inhabits tracks such as the brooding, banjo-inflected ‘Blood Ties’ and the memorable title track, its themes of release and rebirth raising the ghost of the latter-day work of the great Johnny Cash.

The powerful ‘Vision Board’, augmented with haunting female harmonising, tells the story of a narcissistic spiritual healer, delivering one the album’s high watermarks. Meanwhile ‘Kitten Steps’ bounces along on a lonesome alt-country groove, male/female vocals trading verses to lay down one of the albums more up-tempo delights.

Another highlight is the brooding ballad ‘Without Love’, its stately tones fleshed out with tasteful lashings of double bass, piano and violin, Webber’s rich vocals enmeshed with sweet female co-harmonies, the song smouldering then swelling to a powerfully aching finale.

With ‘Petrichor’, These Idle Hands have crafted a richly rewarding song-suite. This is music, much like fine wine, to be imbibed and savoured within the shadowy twilight of self-reflection and contemplation, rewarding aplenty those seeking an emotionally resonant listening experience.

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