Let’s talk Hejira. Let’s talk Joni Mitchell’s eighth studio album. All big imagery, curiously picked guitars and Joni’s distinctive voice fluttering about like a pleasantly drunk moth. Hejira is the musician’s favourite Mitchell album and an obvious influence behind Laura Marling’s spectacular A Creature I Don’t Know album. And, now, a likely influence on Hot Feet’s enigmatic debut EP.
The opening title track rings of Hejira more than any other – the curious delivery of the first line’s anthropomorphism, the tickle of guitar. Lead singer Marianne’s voice is bigger than she looks capable of delivering – it brings so much soul to a track that otherwise could have been simply forced emptily to life like an impressive but lumbering Frankenstein of song. The music is often pulled along by Marianne’s Mitchellesque hints and flirtations. Never anything less than beautiful, the simple repetition of the instruments on ‘Under October’ feels like a collection of small rowing boats whose actions are determined not by their rowers, but by the great force of nature below them, a river capable of directing and pushing, with force of with gentle current.
Wood House is a pleasant EP that hints at greater achievements ahead for the band – on the gentle ‘Pine Needle Blues’ we hear a folk song worthy of competition with any number of 2012’s better folk acts. On the opener we are drawn in immediately to the playfulness of melody. It is lively and enlivening. Those tracks that fall in between – those that are not quite gentle, not quite alive – can feel a little lost. But they’re never anything less than pleasant, even if they never quite reach the differing peaks of ‘Wood House’ or ‘Pine Needle Blues’.
Words: Stephen Thomas