Charlottesville’s Hadnot Creek have pulled from the depths of psyche and storytelling in order to create their evocative second album, Hard World.
Themes of drug use, crime, and heartbreak saturate the journey of this album, which blends folk with alt-rock and gothic noir to create a sense of accessible duskiness. Often, vocalist and songwriter Robert Sawrey drapes lyrics from repeating riffs and hooks that often fill up the remaining space in the room.
There are Americana staples at play here. “Crawling Away” explores the theme of passing time with instrumentation hovering, waiting patiently as the lyrics grow more frustrated with what has been lost. “Leaving Spokane” is a breakup tune that expands lush on the chorus, familiar in the comforting way you might expect from this kind of melancholy collection. “Molly Was A Good Kisser” outlines falling in love and then losing it, but holds sentiment dear, showing a vulnerability that feels fresh.
The highlights and lowlights come with the storytelling. “Toxic Wonder” gleams as a dark tale about addiction and escape, and the twist at the end of “Museum of Messed Up Stories” may leave you reeling, but elsewhere there is something almost too familiar in the portrayal of women. “Liars In Love” equates the sinfulness of a woman becoming successful with her partner’s cheating, and “You Got Caught” uses a girlfriend as a betrayal plot point against a less fortunate partner-in-crime. However, the complexity of “The Day I Started Using Again”’s emotional return to addiction (in which the storyteller notes the frequency of this type of story) showcases a nuance that is rare. This, underscored by sparse-then-grooving instrumentation throughout, is where the heart of the album lies.