New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
For Lucy Tight and Wayne Waxing of Hymn for Her, Drive Til U Die is more than an album title. It’s a manifesto. A mantra. But to call this Americana duo and their daughter road warriors would be a misnomer; to them, the road isn’t a battleground to conquer, it’s their beloved home.
A nomadic tribe of three (formerly four; their late lab, Pokey, now serves as their guardian angel), they dwell in a ’61-vintage Bambi Airstream towed by a Ford van whose odometer shows nearly half a million miles - which, they proudly note, equals a trip to the moon. And back. Sleeping to the rhythm of spinning wheels, they thrive on spontaneity, friends and the moments that make it worthwhile: when they stand onstage and unleash their dynamic yin-yang of high-octane outlaw rockers and honey-sweet, harmony-laden ballads.
Lucy and Wayne, who share a fondness for rustic life, have been described as “hillbillies with electronics,” while their sound has drawn such amusing phrasery as “a riotous, rocking roadkill stew,” “juiced-up backwoods country blues [injected] with a dose of desert-rock psychedelia” and “Hell’s Angels meet the Amish.” Their Facebook page “genre” definition reads, “punksy folksy airstreamy country bluesy grassy waynesy lucy take you on a hayride to hellsy.”
Yeah, that’ll work. They spell it all out in the first track, “Devil’s Train,” the raucous rocker from which the Aug. 12 release draws its title: “We’re takin this ride til the well runs dry … gonna drive til we die.”
The groovin’ twanger “Hi Ho Silver,” another ode to the road, began as notes about hitching and unhitching the Airstream, a rather complex process, says Wayne. “When we were done,” Lucy says, “it read as lyrics.” So it became a song — one with a galloping finish that’ll make “Lone Ranger” fans wave their hats.
They bring it on home with album-ender “The Road Song,” a rollicking rocky-tonker in which they shout, “Ain’t nothin like this here life, got nothin to hold me down. Disappear into the night, feel them wheels hit the ground … keep rollin round!”
But let’s start this journey where they did: in Philadelphia, where Lucy worked in a music store and Wayne worked in a hoagie shop (sub shop, for you non-natives). She’d buy hoagies; he’d buy strings. They started playing open mics together. Then they hit the road.
They’ve been known as Hymn for Her since 2011, when they changed up their folky sound with Wayne’s drums and Lucy’s Johnny Lowe-made Lowebow cigar-box guitar/bass. That year, they released Hymn for Her Presents … Lucy & Wayne and THE AmAIRican STREAM - recorded in the “toaster” trailer during a cross-country tour. (Their first album, 2009’s Year of the Golden Pig, was recorded in a Maine
cabin. “We were figuring out how to be rock ‘n’ roll parents,” Lucy says of that period.)
They recorded its follow-up, Hymn for Her Presents … Lucy and Wayne’s Smokin Flames, at Detroit’s Ghetto Recorders with producer Jim Diamond (the White Stripes, the Fleshtones). That gave them room to kick out even more jams, with Wayne on acoustic guitar, harmonica, kick-drum, hi-hat, and “bang-o” — banjo as drum - and Lucy on banjo, guitar and the broomstick-necked electric cigar-box.
Recording for Drive Til U Die started at Sputnik
Sound Studio in Nashville, with five foot-stomping tracks produced by Vance Powell (Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Jack White).
On most of those, Wayne says, “I ran the acoustic guitar through a small, distorted tube amp, a technique inspired by early Keith Richards.” The trick gave “Shine” its swampy, gumbo spice. But the crunchy psychedelic riffs underlying the upbeat melody and lyrics on “Paraguay” come straight from the Lowebow — and Lucy’s skill at making it wail.
Producer Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Let’s Active) captured their softer side, recording “Seas of Croatia,” “Milkweed” and “Honeycomb” at his Fidelitorium in Kernersville, N.C. Easter also mixed two of three Airstream-recorded tracks: “Mazzy Star” and “Acetylene.”
The slow-groovin’ “Seas of Croatia,” inspired by a sailing trip, is one of several songs that highlight Lucy’s dreamy voice, along with their tightly woven harmonies and intricate instrumentation.
Those same elements come to the fore on the third Airstream recording, the Diamond-mixed “OneBigAchinHeart.” On this one, which addresses loving “what ya got while ya got it,” Wayne’s delicate finger-picking and harmonies underscore Lucy’s angelic soprano as they sing, “Everybody misses somebody/The whole world has one big achin’ heart.”
“This song is very special to us. Our great-aunt Lee, who was 102 at the time, sang along with our 8-year-old daughter,” Lucy explains. “Aunt Lee passed away just before reaching 103.”
The touching tune moves some listeners to tears. But another line puts it all in perspective: “Sometimes life gets so sad, you have to laugh.”
“We wanted to put out an album that takes you on a ride ‘over the hills and far away,’”
says Lucy. Through life’s landscapes, in other words. Which leads us to another irresistible track: “Milkweed,” a poppy, floating Dr. Seuss trip down a colorful street that entices listeners to follow their hearts and “blow a kiss good-bye.” Astute ears might catch what sounds like an Alice in Wonderland
utterance, but actually nods to George
Harrison: “God knows if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
That, ultimately, is the message Lucy and Wayne want to convey with Drive Til U Die:
“Just get out there. Throw yourself into the great unknown.”
Like Hymn for Her do every time they hitch up the Airstream and jump in the Ford.