wears the trousers magazine

beth jeans houghton & the hooves of destiny: hot toast volume one EP (2009)
September 8, 2009, 12:41 pm
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , , ,


Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny
Hot Toast Volume One EP ••••
Static Caravan

According to her laudably bonkers biography, 19 year old Beth Jeans Houghton was born in Transylvania to a pack of albino werewolves who raised her on a diet of chewing tobacco and stuffed clams. Luckily, this feral existence doesn’t seem to have done her any visible harm. She clearly has the personality to win over the mainstream in a way that many of her fellow antifolk musicians might find more difficult. However, it’s her music that really deserves the attention. Spiking the safe waters of the new folk scene with something a little more edgy and less predictable, Houghton has the potential to cross genre lines and make a much bigger splash.

Hot Toast Volume One follows on from last year’s self-titled EP and recent single ‘Golden’, both of which served up a gorgeous taste of what she had to offer while leaving us hungry for more. Her first release with new backing band The Hooves Of Destiny and produced by Mike Lindsay of Tunng, the EP opens with lead single ‘I Will Return, I Promise’, a heady hoedown of a song (improbably inspired, she says, by the Tom Hanks movie ‘Castaway’) that’s as much Dolly Parton as it is Laura Marling. On this relentless jig, Houghton sounds like a cartoon cowgirl with the blues, while the refrain of “Day by day, I’m making plans to get away / In the morning I’ll be gone, in the morning I’ll be gone” is so insanely catchy that, with the right push, could well be her ‘1234’ (the career rocketing, iPod advertising single from Feist).

Things get reigned in a little on ‘Anne Cramb’ and old favourite ‘Cruel Francis’, which have more in common with ‘Golden’ than the lead single; both tracks are short but sweet curiosities that are perhaps less immediate but beg to be listened to again and again. The banjo comes back out for ‘Hot Toast’, which returns to a more rootsy, Southern variety of American folk but feels altogether more forgettable than ‘I Will Return, I Promise’ and is a little underwhelming. Happily, Houghton recovers with closer ‘LilyPutt’, which starts with the ethereal sound heard previously on ‘Golden’ B-side ‘Night Swimmer’ and builds into something stronger and more assured. “Oh my love, I’m not done with you yet, oh no,” she sings assertively, becoming increasingly defiant and not prepared to “die without these words having left my mouth.”

Hot Toast Volume One is a short but substantial collection of songs that would make a great first half to a debut album. If there’s a Volume Two waiting in the wings that is anything like as enjoyable as this, we can only hope Houghton keeps her promise to return.

Richard Steele
UK release date: 21/09/09; www.myspace.com/bethjeanshoughton


‘I Will Return, I Promise’


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