Burn is the fourth self-released studio album by Californian singer Rita Hosking. A strong collection of country-folk songs that range from the celebratory to the elegiac, Hosking set out to “explore the soul of working America, from a miner’s daughter to a Gulf shrimper, to staring into a sink full of dirty dishes.” That she manages to achieve this without resorting to tired clichés and country music tropes is to her great credit.
The album opens with the dreamy, harmonica drenched ‘Something You Got’, a love song penned for Hosking’s husband, Sean Feder, who plays banjo, Dobro, and percussion on the album. Hosking describes it as her ‘first real love song’ and there is something remarkably honest and straightforward about the sentiment as she sings, “I want to write you a pretty love song/Like Van Morrison or Johnny and June.” It’s probably the standout track in the album, a beautifully crafted tribute to the simple pleasures of a loving relationship – a home cooked meal or a sing-a-long on the front porch.
‘Crash and Burn’ is a tale about a barrel-racing woman who learns to embrace demolition derby and the crowd’s appetite for disaster. It’s one of those songs that inject a certain gravitas into a subject with limited appeal, and Hosking’s laidback almost languid vocal is surprisingly effective. ‘How Many Fires‘ starts out as a gentle yet haunting folk ballad before rocking it up in the second half. Hosking’s vocals veer from the pure to the gritty all in the space of one song, a reminder of how a good voice can become great when it’s used with such attention to dynamics.
There are moments when the album loses momentum, such as the almost dreary ‘Dishes’ and the inoffensive but unremarkable ‘Coyote’ but it finishes strongly with ‘Song For Claire’, a subtle plea for humanity to get its act together. If it ever does, will people still write country songs?
How Many Fires:
Burn is self released October 10 2011