Hip Hatchet is the alter ego of North American country/folk artist Philippe Bronchtein. He’s a singer/songwriter who likes to stay mobile, having lived in many locations. His life and experiences while traveling serve as the inspiration for much of his material, in the hopes that his music will make listeners “think about their definition of home and place”.

Bronchtein is currently preparing for the release of his latest endeavour, Hold You Like a Harness. The sharp acoustic riff of its title track gets the album off to an affecting opening ahead of a slow and articulate melody. There’s a strong Americana flavour to the vocals and instrumentation as it drifts delicately across the air, conveying a great deal of emotion and expression as it does so.

“Coward’s Luck” follows upon a relaxing introduction full of gentle guitars and pleasant percussion that persist through a heartfelt harmony. Trucking along at a placid pace, it eventually arrives at a chilling chorus which prefaces a touching instrumental exhibition. It’s an easy-going but purposeful addition that rests comfortably on the ears.

The soft and friendly riff of “Small Bird Song” runs into crisp and clear vocals that resonate wonderfully. Stirring strings act as a bridge to an absorbing duet during the chorus, whose subtle but stimulating serenade says a lot in its simplicity. “Travel Map” moves faster in its wake, increasing in enthusiasm as it progresses. A rousing refrain erupts for the captivating chorus, the optimistic attitude of which is rife with energy and vitality.

“David’s Wolves” features a very reserved riff playing out behind vivid vocals that penetrate deep. The instrumentation grows gradually, establishing a rather introspective ambience. “Ladies’ Night” bursts into a pounding beat and mellow melody afterwards. There’s a heavy country flair in the verse as it approaches a restrained harmony that sails solemnly forward before building to an exhilarating end.

The sombre guitars of “Tacoma Road” are moving as they lead the way towards sobering vocals. The outcome is a contemplative composition which culminates in a forceful finale. “Words of Wisdom” succeeds it with poignant piano keys amid a melancholy melody. The music remains truly touching throughout, forging a powerful piece that makes a heavy impression.

“Cars Look Like Crying” is another forlorn offering, loaded with pain and passion, before “Father Redemption” turns in a more feisty direction. Its frantic musical motifs and cheerful vocals keep it keen and catchy as it skips along ardently. “Man of God” takes over then, serving as a thoughtful tune that closes things out via a bracing melody and cutting acoustic guitars.

Hip Hatchet’s work here is meditative and meaningful. It manages to strike a nice balance between seriousness and serenity with its reflective content and easy listening execution. This results in an adept undertaking that has plenty of substance and significance.

Hip Hatchet: Hold You Like a Harness album review
Graduate of NUI Maynooth's Department of English, passionate writer of fiction and creative non-fiction alike. Mad about music, movies and books. If there's anything I enjoy more than listening, watching and reading, it's writing about what I listen to, watch and read! Check me out at davecsimpson.wordpress.com, find me on Twitter @davesimpson1 or drop me a line at dave@puremzine.com