With his progressive, electrified, solemn and churning second full album, Tyson Smith has carved out a niche groove in which to reside in the framework of modern NZ blues and folk. ‘Hollow Tree’ features Smith on guitar, vocals, percussion and electric bass alongside Rick Cranson (Little Bushman) on drums and Ed Zuccollo (Harbour City Electric) on Moog synth. While the blues and folk influences float to the surface, driving like a steam engine are rhythmic turns, structure mix ups and scales that reach beyond the norm, cleverly catapulting this out of bog standard folk and blues fare into another level of composition.
Tracks Winding Our Way and Red Stone represent the shortest listening experience at four minutes-odd, the rest of the album presenting much more terrain to cover – the title track towards 11 minutes. Opening salvo Line of Sight brings to mind Chris Cornell’s (of Soundgarden) solo work – soulful singing, ambitious arrangements and adventurous chord patterns paint an articulately dark picture in the mind, through warm sounds and sombre melodies. For fans of forward thinking blues, folk and rock ‘Hollow Tree’ is a mature, guitar-laden, introspective and expansive waltz through the bayous, and there is always something there to keep the listener interested.