When you put together three singer/songwriters whose solo careers have been steady and acclaimed without any of them becoming bona fide superstars, you either have a recipe for a colossal disaster or something truly beautiful. Hotels & Highways — composed of Erin “Syd” Sidney, Lisa Piccirillo and Patrick Thomas — fortunately falls into this latter category, and their debut record is a dreamy piece of acoustic Americana rock and soul that is among this year’s better releases so far.
The songs on this album often have a languid, ethereal feel to them. “Meant to Be” is a slow shuffler that features echoing drums and tambourines to go with Sidney’s low, dry vocals while Piccirillo adds gorgeous vocal layers to the edges of the track as the phrase “every day” is repeated for the final minute or so of the song. “Heaven Knows” follows a similar tack, with Thomas playing a splendid acoustic guitar and while piano keys add to the laid back atmosphere that permeates the track. And stunners like “Night Song” are slow strummers that feature a number of relaxing, otherworldly sounds and vocals that will make you think you’re listening to a performance by angels beneath a starry sky in the middle of Wyoming.
Written and recorded over a period of ten days in late 2010, what is perhaps most impressive about this album is how naturally and fluidly the band works together. Sidney and Piccirillo play off each other’s vocals exceptionally well and create some great harmonies, Thomas plays a number of guitar parts that will put you at ease and make you start tapping your toes, and even when the group throws you a curve with jazzy numbers like “People Have Spoken” it doesn’t sound random or even out of place. Everything seems to fit together nicely, and the comfort level is apparent throughout the record.
Lost River only sounds like an appropriate title in the sense that, when listening to this record, you can imagine these three artists on a road trip across a remote piece of country as they stumble upon a river that they end up stopping to enjoy for a while. Similarly, Lost River draws you to it unexpectedly, and once you’re there you’re going to want to stick around.