“Lucy & Wayne and the Amairican Stream” by Philadelphia’s Hymn for Her
One of the most interesting bands I have come across in recent months is the life partner roots duo Hymn for Her. Though their hometown is listed as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, they quite literally live on the road. That is to say, Hymn for Her’s lovely Maggi Jane, who also goes by the stage name Lucy Tight, and cool Pierce Ternay, who also goes by the stage name Wayne Waxing, reside together in their sixteen-foot, 1961 Bambi Airstream trailer. Traveling the impossibly long and infinitely strange stretches of American highway, Maggi and Pierce (or Lucy and Wayne, rather) go from town to town, city to city, state to state, and so on in the way that such nomadic troubadours go. And it’s not just Lucy and Wayne on these adventures, as they have a baby and a dog as well. What a life that must be!
Also interesting about Hymn for Her is that they use rather unusual instrumentation to create their unique sound. Lucy sings with a strong, captivating voice and plays a weird, homemade three-string broom handle and cigar box banjo. While Lucy does her thing, Wayne strums the acoustic guitar or fingerpicks a traditional banjo, works a kick drum and hi-hat setup with his feet, and sings along with his wife’s vocals. In addition to the instuments already mentioned, they sometimes incorporate dobro and harp into their songs as well. Overall, the combined instrumentation and musical skill of both Lucy and Wayne create a catchy, organic and energetic sound, simultaneously old-timey and modern, lo-fi and refined, chaotic and orderly, rustic and urban, clear and distorted, traditional and unconventional, and so on in the way that describes music born of such a rare union.
Lucy and Wayne’s mobile home doesn’t just provide a means of shelter and transportation; it also serves as the duo’s recording studio. To date, they have self recorded and self released two albums — Year of the Golden Pig and Lucy & Wayne and the Amairican Stream –, the latter having just been made available in the spring of 2010. A truly impressive album, Lucy & Wayne and the Amairican Stream is a collection of twelve original songs, each one marked by the duo’s gritty Americana, punk-grass, roots rock, alt-countryesque and slightly folky signature sound. Since its release, the album has been well-received by fans and press alike. In fact, it has actually served to increased the duo’s fan base considerably.
On Lucy & Wayne and the Amairican Stream the more noteworthy tracks are decidedly the opener “Slips,” the fourth song in “Fiddlestix,” the beautiful “Not,” the rockin’ “Montana,” and the altogether awesome “Thursday.” But I personally consider this particular album one of those rare albums that I can listen to all the way through, appreciating every song equally, or almost equally.
So it seems that Hymn for Her has joined the handful of worthwhile two-piece bands in today’s world. Some of their peers then are The Bee Team, Andrew Jackson Jihad, Ghost Mice, Restavrant, Black Diamond Heavies, Left Lane Cruiser, Uncle Scratch’s Gospel Revival, Two Gallants, The Black Keys, The Juke Joint Pimps. Of course, there are a lot more two-piece bands in the world, though not too many more worthwhile ones, sorry to say. It’s a difficult thing to get right, being a good two-piece. But Hymn for Her have certainly made it work, and made it work well.
At present Hymn for Her are on tour. Then again, being that they live on the road in their Airstream caravan trailer pretty much year round, they are usually touring, with a few breaks here and there. Sorry to inform all of you Philadelphians that Hymn for Her won’t be back around to our area again until April 10th, when they won’t be playing a typical show but performing live on WXPN 88.5 FM Radio’s Gene Shay Show. Then, on April 16th, they are scheduled to play a show at The Grape Room in northwestern Philly. Show starts at 9 o’ clock at night, and it’s not an all-ages venue.
Now, I have yet to attend a Hymn for Her show, but from what I hear it’s an event not to be missed. So, I will just have to get out to check them out in the near future. After which, I will write about it and let you know how it was. For those of you scattered about the country, consult the band’s tour location and dates at their website. Until then, get Hymn for Her’s albums, listen to them at length, and enjoy.