Lonesome Panoramic

Hot Buttered Rum

Independent release, 2018


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


San Francisco's Hot Buttered Rum has been at it for just about two decades now, and on this, their sixth album, the bluegrass and folk five-piece brings us 13 tracks of energetic, layered, dual vocal fun. On hand are plenty of guest vocalists, too, including members of ALO, among others.

The first tune “You Can Tell” puts their fiddle acrobatics on display with the upbeat, soulful bluegrass rocker and “Sittin' Here Alone” follows with a similar warmth, though a bit slower and with background vocals to complement the fun. “Country Tunes & Love Songs” is one of two tracks here with some all-star help, and on this one The Coffis Bros. bring their harmonizing pipes to the more intimate, introspective atmosphere. That carries over into the sparse balladry of “How Short The Song.”my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The middle of the album delivers more gems with the dobro friendly “Treasure Island Blues,” which certainly has a blues feel against harmony that the violins contribute to, and the lightning quick pace of “Never Got Married,” which is one of the best track here. “The Spirits Still Come” is another collaboration, this time with the Rainbow Girls, who provide breathy backing vocals to a more haunting selection. The following “Leaving Dallas” is another darker moment with an enormous amount of beauty.

The last few songs get playful and even more memorable, especially with the brushed percussion and fiddle solos of “When That Lonesome Feeling Comes.” The album exits with “The Deep End,” where Dan Lebowitz and Zach Gill, both of ALO, lend their guitar, vocal, and keyboard talents to a calm and groove-filled funk atmosphere.

Similar bands to Hot Buttered Rum are hard to pinpoint, but Hot Buttered Rum does admit that they have “the memory of Tom Petty Whispering in our ears.” Probably best described as a tangling of jam, country, folk, and bluegrass that results in a timeless energy and easily enjoyable spirit, this is a criminally underappreciated outfit and a fantastic album.

Rating: A-

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