Big Harp – Chain Letters

Big Harp
Chain Letters
Los Angeles, CA
(Saddle Creek)

“Drinking songs for drowning sorrows”

If you ever find yourself sitting alone in a half empty bar that’s just a little too quiet, caught somewhere in between romance and tragedy, you might ask the bartender to put on Chain Letters. Like Merle Haggard or Johnny Cash, the husband and wife duo Big Harp knows how to write a simple, straightforward song that’s sadder than it has any right to be.

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Big Harp – Chain Letters trailer from Saddle Creek on Vimeo.

Guitarist and lead singer Chris Senseney’s voice is world-weary and passionate, and serves as the centerpiece of the record. Unlike most singers who turn to their upper register for emotion, Senseney is haunting when he pushes the lower end of his range. The other half of Big Harp, Stefanie Drootin-Senseney, supports her husband with background vocals and anchors the songs with her fuzz-drenched bass lines. Unfortunately the album’s mix hides her contribution, especially on the record’s most upbeat tracks “Outside In The Snow” and “Good News,” which still grooves despite its odd meter, 11/8. However, a close listen reveals a great interplay between the similar sounds of Stefanie’s fuzz bass and Chris’ gritty baritone.

The duo is supported by drums and guitar overdubs, as well as cameo appearances by organ and orchestral strings, lending the album a full and more conventional sound –  perfect for a bar, or wherever you happen to be drinking away your troubles.

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