Americana Highways REVIEW: The Mother Hips “Glowing Lantern”

The title of The Mother Hips’ latest LP, Glowing Lantern, is a whole lot more than an afterthought. “The glowing lantern is a universal symbol for sanctuary,” says Mother Hips co-founder Tim Bluhm. “That’s what we wanted this album to be: a warm safe place to get in out of the dark cold night.” Bluhm produced Glowing Lantern with his bandmate Greg Loiacono. That sonic warmth can be heard on nearly all of the dozen tracks that make up this remarkably satisfying release. The California-based band wrote and recorded the album during the height of the global COVID pandemic and despite an atmosphere of doubt, uncertainty and loneliness, the band kept the flame of optimism burning throughout. Through their unique mix of psychedelic and Americana, the group manages to lean in on love and optimism without coming off too Pollyanna-ish. The opening track, “Sunset Blues” set a perfect tone for what follows, smart, at times tough lyrics, bracketed by infectious grooves. There are one or two weaker moments on the record, like the plodding “Nature’s Twisting Heart” and the trippy “What Happened To You,” but for the most part the band is firing on all cylinders, especially on the Blues-soaked, funky “Clay Mask Clown,” one of the band’s best tracks to date (with the infectious “Song In A Can” right behind it). Three decades after their founding, The Mother Hips are turning in their most consistent material yet; the lyrics are more meaningful and the musicianship is remarkable. It’s a shame it took the pandemic to inspire such a solid album, but it’s hard to argue with how great Glowing Lantern turned out. “I think the pandemic made it easier for me to see just how much music really means to people,” said Bluhm. Amen.
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