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The Woman That Ended The World

Hillstomp has simply outdone themselves on this new record, The Woman That Ended The World. Their debut full length, One Word, was chock full of gritty country-blues songs presented with a very unique flair and clear presence. This latest record builds on that foundation, but strips things down even farther and simplifies most songs to their bare essence, providing a glimpse of just what an excellent guitar player Henry Kammerer really is. His abilities on slide guitar have grown leaps and bounds, smoothing out in some places, but growing more powerful and growly at just the right times.

The new record starts off with a cover of R.L. Burnside's "Poor Black Mattie" that is as solid as R.L.'s versions ever were, and actually makes the song all the more powerful through the excellent playing and lo-fi production. It's a perfect set-up for what is to come on the rest of the record. Hillstomp throws in some fine attitude on "Momma Told Papa" accompanying guitar that would be perfect on a Big Sugar record were it a bit smoother. This original composition really shows how dynamic the band is becoming in the studio, and how their abilities as arrangers have grown since the first record. A cover of Muddy Waters' "Can't Be Satisfied" is up next, and it rocks exactly the way it should, with some low fidelity drums and tambourine fleshing out a rhythm part that accentuates the loose and perfect guitar. By the time "In The Hole" arrives, it's almost a shock to hear a slower track that reminds me of the finest non-rocking moments of Morphine. This track is pure melody, subdued and light, but powerful in its cautious presentation.

"Jackson Parole Board Blues" sounds like it could have come off of an early Eric Clapton record, only Slowhand was never this gritty and low-down. This song would play great on any Americana or classic rock station that had the balls to actually play some real blues. The music comes back around to a jumpy porch-yard blues on a cover of Fred McDowell's "You Done Told Everybody" which flows into the almost punkabilly jangle of "Boom Boom Room East Blues". This track really stands out because it is a different take on the blues from most of the other tracks presented here. Weaving a tale of their hometown, "N.E. Portland 3 AM" is an almost autobiographical sketch of how the music came to be. Slowing things down for "Deep Knee Blues", Kammerer finally puts some tremolo on his guitar and smoothes things out into a more northern sounding blues for one of the best tracks on the record. The album wraps with a devilishly Robert Johnson-esque cover of Rainey Burnette's "Coal Black Mattie"… slow and drawling, the tune is filled with heart and a deep empathy for the pain of the author.

Hillstomp may not be a household word… yet. But if those who are constantly on the lookout for great new music and dig blues music find them, then there will be a quick rise to the top of the pile. The band pays homage to all the greats of the delta blues and stays deeply rooted in the great traditions of the music while keeping their sound unique to themselves and fresh… and honestly, this band is mostly like Mark E. Smith stripping down The Fall and making a country stomp record. It's got the same weird edginess that Smith brings to his music, all wrapped around some of the down-homiest blues music you white folks may ever get to hear.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1 Poor Black Mattie
2 Momma Told Papa
3 Can't Be Satisfied
4 In The Hole
5 Shake It
6 Jackson Parole Board Blues
7 You Done Told Everybody
8 Boom Boom Room East Blues
9 N.E. Portland 3 AM
10 Deep Knee Blues
11 Coal Black Mattie

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