David Huckfelt of The Pines To Release Solo Debut
David Huckfelt, the acclaimed leader of The Pines, will release his solo debut, Stranger Angels, on February 22, 2018. Huckfelt wrote the album in solitude as the Artist-In-Residence on Isle Royale, channeling the mysterious and lonesome island's spirits into a stirring thin-place soundtrack. After recently releasing the title track, that features Sylvan Esso's Amelia Meath on vocals, Huckfelt today shares the video for "You Get Got" - which premiered at PopMatters, who called it, "a song that seems guaranteed to advance his reputation as one of his generation's finest voices."
"You Get Got" starts with notes Huckfelt took of his grandparents talking in bed after sixty-four years of marriage on the family farm in Iowa, and travels in a country-waltz fashion into the political and the universal with some help from guest vocalist Erik Koskinen. The Dominic Hanft directed video was shot at a Sunday afternoon 'Country Dance' at an Eagles Club in Minneapolis were one couple was celebrating a 65th wedding anniversary. An older gentleman brought his boots in from outside to shine them up before hitting the floor. Smiles and joy gave the room a beautiful glow.
The music on Stranger Angels is both transportive and reflective, focused inwards even as it draws on an abundance of outside influence. Hypnotic banjo and gentle acoustic guitar meet trippy public domain samples and shimmering soundscapes underneath Huckfelt's stark, raw vocals as he wrestles with questions of fate and faith, responsibility and independence, connection and loss.
Stranger Angels follows Huckfelt's latest album with The Pines, 2016's, Above The Prairie. Hailed by No Depression as "dazzling," drawing the attention of Rolling Stone's David Fricke who called The Pines "poignant stark country" and earning high praise in both the US and Europe, with Mojo calling it "their most beautiful yet" and Minnesota NPR station The Current raving that it "hits so close to the gut that it reminds us that they are truly a singular band."
A former theology student who once wrote and preached sermons in Cook County Jail in Chicago, Huckfelt has gone through the fire and dogma of "heaven" and "god" and come out the other end with a worldview fiercely present, concrete and expansive. "Stranger Angels as a title, to me, has a thousand references to what's left after life and death and experience and loss and love burns off all the easy answers," says Huckfelt. "The idea of god or spirit being hidden under the opposite of what we think we know, of ancestors and spirits visiting us, screaming in our ears all day long, but we miss it because it's different, stranger than we expected... And the kindness we give and receive from strangers, the least, last and lost among us. Our cities are overflowing with strange angels, it's such a mistake when we think we know which or who can offer us something, and which can't. Every spirit has something to give. Then, when I saw the night camera footage of the moose and wolves on Isle Royale, dancing in the moonlight and gracing the forest with their presence, I thought stranger angels indeed."
The record also draws on deep wells of Native American tradition and spirituality, a life-long anchor for Huckfelt which has developed more fully through working with Native songwriters and poets like John Trudell, Quiltman, Keith Secola, Tom LaBlanc and more. References to the healing and prophetic prayer-visions of indigenous thought and voices are everywhere on this record, including the chilling, epic, cosmic pow-wow closing track "Star Nation", with the authoritative voice of American Indian Movement activist & singer Floyd Red Crow Westerman leading the way.
Artfully weaving the historical, the ecological, and the personal into an elegant lyrical web, these songs contain layers of surprise and richness, as in the track "Everywind" with Huckfelt turning an imagining of the life of a woman named Everywind from a vintage photograph into a ballad in celebration of all women. The elegant "Still And Still Moving" sparkles like sunlight off the waters of Lake Superior as it ponders mortality and the impermanence of everything around us and "False True Lover Blues" stands as a gut punch at the precise place where a broken heart starts to mend.
When it was time to record the songs from Isle Royale, Huckfelt again sought geographic isolation, working out of a 110-year-old farmhouse studio in Menomonie, Wisconsin. This time, however, he chose to surround himself with fellow artists, assembling a dream team of musicians including drummer/co-producer J.T. Bates (Andrew Bird, Mason Jennings), bassist Darin Gray (Tweedy, William Tyler), and guitarists Michael Rossetto, Erik Koskinen, and Jeremy Ylvisaker, cutting sixteen songs in just three days. Very special guests rallied to Huckfelt's side, including spectacular performances by Sylvan Esso's Amelia Meath on "Heart, Wherever", "Everywind" and "Stranger Angels", Trampled By Turtles' Dave Simonett singing harmony vocals on multiple tracks. Recorded and mixed by engineer extraordinaire Adam Krinksy (Bellows Studio) the album captures the magic and spontaneity of a gifted band discovering the beauty and brilliance of the songs and each other all at once. Other stellar appearances include gospel-blues master Phil Cook on Hammond organ, while electronic musician and sample wizard Andrew Broder (Fog) haunts the tracks with the sparse, mercurial public domain samples of old-world Americana, as if these songs were coming through a Ham radio in an old ghost town.
David Huckfelt Tour Dates
Nov 08 - Chicago, IL - Old Town School of Folk Music: Szold Hall #
Nov 09 - Viroqua, WI - Driftless Books & Music #
Nov 10 - Eau Claire, WI - Oxbow Hotel #
Nov 16 - Minneapolis, MN - Parkway Theater
Nov 23 - Milwaukee, WI - The Back Room at Colectivo Coffee
Nov 24 - Iowa City, IA - The Mill %
Dec 08 - Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon
Dec 14 - La Crosse, WI - The Root Note
Jan 25 - Flagstaff, AZ - Cococino Arts Center @
Jan 26 - Tucson, AZ - 191 Toole Ave @
# w/ Pieta Brown
% w/ Field Report + Kelly Pardekooper
@ w/ Greg Brown