By Jof Owen
One of the most refreshingly out of step voices in country music has made one of the year’s most genuinely brilliant and beautiful records.
2. Good Thing
3. Baby Let's Ride
5. #1 Zookeeper (of the San Diego Zoo)
6. Soccer Field
8. Whatever Helps You Sleep
There’s magic in those Kentucky hills. Tucked away in a studio up there for five months, Abby Hamilton definitely found it. Existing in a sort of fantasy world impervious to the whims of modern production, #1 Zookeeper (of the San Diego Zoo) sounds like a record made shuttered off from the rest of the world.
It’s a warm and truly lovely sounding record, one full of swooning, softly chiming guitars and serene Laurel Canyon folk-pop touches that bring Natalie Prass or Caitlin Rose to mind. Her sung-spoken conversational delivery, meanwhile, is reminiscent of Courtney Barnett’s insouciance and the forthrightness of Sheryl Crow.
There’s a deep, melancholic clarity to her observations on life, as she ruefully unpicks past relationships with a candour that makes them feel like secret whispered conversations she’s having with herself inside her head.
With the casual slacker charm of Jess Williamson and Faye Webster, Hamilton and her band cruise effortlessly through the Americana landscape of the last thirty years, taking in a little bit of Lucinda Williams and Roseanne Cash here and there. There are some stop offs at the 90’s jangly indie folk of Shawn Colvin and Mary Lou Lord along the way too, arriving at the end with something truly original and of itself.
One of the most refreshingly out of step voices in country music has made one of the year’s most genuinely brilliant and beautiful records. Sometimes you need to step away from the world for a while to see it for how it truly is.
Abby Hamilton's 2023 album, #1 Zookeeper (of the San Diego Zoo), is out now via Blue Gown Records.
For more Abby Hamilton, see below: