Coco Hames – Coco Hames (2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 32:04 minutes | 683 MB | Genre: Pop/Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Bandcamp | Front cover | © Merge Records
As the frontwoman and indomitable force behind beloved garage-pop combo The Ettes, Coco Hames blazed a memorable trail across the ’00s underground. In the summer of 2016 she began work on her solo album at The Bomb Shelter in Nashville. Hames co-produced the record with Andrija Tokic, who’d helped sire career-making albums for Alabama Shakes, Hurray for the Riff Raff, and others.
When she was singing and playing guitar in the Ettes, Coco Hames was a garage rock firebrand, able to melt plastic with her guitar and knock the birds out of the trees with her voice. On her self-titled solo debut, she opts for a calmer approach. Working with co-producer Andrija Tokic, who had famously helmed albums by the Alabama Shakes and Hurray for the Riff Raff, Hames delves into a kind of burnished Americana that’s equal parts classic country weepers, downhearted girl group melodrama, and sad rock & roll ballads. A couple tracks have a little bit of the Ettes’ garage crunch, but mostly Hames threads her magnificent voice into songs that are melancholy and restrained. The one-two emotional gut punch of “When You Said Goodbye” and “Do I Love You” starts the record off in stunning fashion. Hames’ vocals are honey-coated and vibrating with deep feelings, the words are tear-stained and true, and the musical backing fits like a well-designed glove. If the album stopped right there, it would have been too short and completely perfect. To go along with these two instant classics, there are a handful of comparably lovely songs, like the sultry “If You Ain’t Mine” and the subdued nocturnal ballad “You’re Calling Me,” that match Hames’ vocal strengths with some inventive musical backing and soft hooks. Where the album stumbles a bit is when the songs and arrangements don’t spark, leading to overly simple songs like the country ballad “Tennessee Hollow” or tunes that try to rock but are reined in by the very pristine and precise production. The cover of Bash & Pop’s “Tiny Pieces,” sung as a duet with John McCauley of Deer Tick, also doesn’t add much to the overall album, feeling like a fun throwaway track, not something for a debut album. The almost breathtaking goodness of the best tracks here combined with the songs that don’t quite connect leads to a very mixed listening experience that will have Ettes fans wishing Hames had kept some of the grit and fiery energy her old band had in spades.
01 – When You Said Goodbye
02 – I Do Love You
03 – I Don’t Wanna Go
04 – Long Time Coming
05 – Tennessee Hollow
06 – If You Ain’t Mine
07 – You’re Calling Me
08 – Tiny Pieces
09 – This House Ain’t a Home
10 – Dead River
Produced by Andrija Tokic and Coco Hames.
Recorded at Bomb Shelter, Nashville, TN.
Engineered and Recorded by Andrija Tokic.
Mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering, Boston, MA.
Coco Hames – vocals, guitar, harpsichord, Omnichord, piano
Jack Lawrence – bass
Adam Meisterhans – guitar
Julian Dorio – drums, percussion
Dave Amels – organ, Farfisa
Jon Estes – piano
Matt Menold – organ
Carey Kotsionis – vocals
Lillie Mae Rische – vocals
John McCauley – vocals on track “8”
Ed DuQuesne – additional instrumentation