‘Desperate Neon” by Dark Hollow Bottling Company is one of my favorite local releases of the past few months because it’s gutsy Americana-soaked folk, and the songs are incredibly well written.
They really get under your skin — or at least my skin — with their stark honesty. Listening to the album feels like you’re having a conversation with a fellow drifter that you just met at a truck-stop diner. Over several cups of coffee and just as many belts of bourbon, all is revealed.
The conversation starts with the song “Guts.”
“I sulked back to the bar and I doubled up/The whiskey filled my mind, but it drained my cup/And this heart that I once wore so proudly on my sleeve is one way or another gonna abandon me.” Doesn’t cut to the quick much better than that. That is until the next song, “Chernobyl,” comes on.
“Decisions are easy when they have to be made/They’re melting down Chernobyl, reactor’s running hot/Sometimes I just don’t know when to stop when I’m by myself.”
“Hit and Run” continues the conversation about life and love in fine fashion. “Found myself thinking of times long gone/Found myself hoping for time’s long gone/And how they went wrong.”
Before I tell you about the band, I’ve got to talk about a few more songs, because they’re all so darn good. “Naming Scars” is another one: “I never meant to make it seem, too hard on you/And if it’s outside my understanding, it’s the best I can do.”
“Salty Tears” is a toe-tapper about not wanting to let go. “Well it’s time to home, think I’m gonna stay right here/Oh yes, it’s time to go home/But I’d much rather stay right here/’Cause the way that I feel darlin’ now is so sincere.” Hell, yes.
Dark Hollow Bottling Company is Greg Klein (vocals, guitar, mandolin, guitjo), Nick Skala (vocals, guitar, guitjo, percussion), Jim White (vocals, guitar, dobro, lap steel), Kiley Shryock (vocals, guitar, fiddle, squeezebox) and Brian Durkin (vocals, bass, guitar).
They’re all fantastic musicians, and what makes this band even more riveting to me is that there isn’t just one lead singer. Greg Klein wrote seven of the album’s 10 songs and sings lead on six of them. His voice has a kind of poetic edge to it, giving the words even more meaning and drawing you into the landscape of the song.
Nick Scala takes lead on “Guts,” which he also wrote, and his voice has its own edge, with just the right amount of twang. Brian Durkin takes his turn at the mic on his song “Border Town” and nails it. Riley Shyrock’s vocals on “When She Was Done” also don’t disappoint. You’ll hear Jim White singing on the album’s one cover, a stirring take on the traditional tune “Silver Dagger.”
And as you can imagine, the harmonies they lend to each other on these songs are sensational. “Desperate Neon” is their third album with the other two being “American Ghosts” and “Gone Gone Gone.” Every third Sunday they perform at Blue, so you can catch them this weekend there and on several upcoming Sundays. Find them on Facebook, Sonic Bids, Reverb Nation and Spotify, then get yourself down to Blue. Getting back to the two drifters at that truck-stop diner. A couple of hours later the two souls toss back one last swig from a ratty old flask and pat each other on the back. One says to the other, “Hey man, you take care.” The other replies, “I think I just might.” End scene.
6 p.m. Sunday. Blue, 650A Congress St., Portland, no cover. portcityblue.com