by Nick Brothers
Experiencing a Handmade Moments show is kind of like enjoying a spoonful of political discourse wrapped in local organic bacon and deep fried in hemp oil — and it’s all silky.
Anna Horton and Joel Ludford have been a jazz/folk duo for 3 years while playing in the local group Don’t Stop Please. While Don’t Stop Please was more about artistic aspirations, Handmade Moments was a fun way for the two to do cover songs and make some money on the side.
Over time, they got more serious and created more and more original music. Now, Handmade Moments have made enough moments that they’re ready to share them in their debut album. Featuring a group effort of local musicians, the album is pretty solid.
To celebrate, the band is hosting a CD Release party starting at 9p.m. on Thursday, July 24 at Smoke and Barrel Tavern, 324 W Dickson St.
After listening to an advanced copy of Handmade Moments’ album, it’s safe to say their eccentric, intimate sound stays true on the album. With most of the music recorded live, the album evokes feelings of coziness and bliss. The two employ the sounds of various Ozark folk instruments with ukulele, classical guitar, banjo, upright bass, mandolin and vibraphone to pull off a concoction of a type of country jazz.
“Our approach to the album was mostly live,” Horton said. “We wanted to give people something that sounded like what we do when we play a live show. We did most of the album, even the harmonies, live.”
Horton’s voice on the album is intoxicating. On their cover of the jazz standard, “Do it Again,” Horton sings the words “My lips they ache for you to take the kiss that’s waiting for you,” to silky perfection as Ludford dances about on his guitar. When the two take it slow like they do on “Do it Again,” and “See Dick Run,” the music is like watching a lounge singer perform in a swanky club in the the 1940s. Horton pulls off the trailing vibrato sound, and it would be great to get more.
Ludford sings an equal amount, and he could be compared to an Arkansan-yodeling version of Conor Oberst. His guitar playing is excellent, and combined with Horton’s voice and her ukulele playing, the two make a great combined sound. Overall, the album features a good recording quality that’s clear and clean — which is important to their sound.
As unassuming as some of the music may sound, the lyrics allude to fracking, marijuana policy, the idea of a globalized war society, slow food and big brother. In fact, the members of Handmade Moments are very passionate about several topics beyond the ones they write about.
“Musicians have this really cool power to get a bunch of people together to listen to something,” Horton said. “It’s cool when you can spread these ideas and maybe spark some interest in people’s heads of things they could try out, like going to the farmer’s market or researching things on the internet.”
At the release party, expect to hear all of the above, as well as some groovy beatbox breakdowns and banter. There will also likely be a jamboree of sorts with the cast of musicians that will be in support of Handmade Moments.
“Expect some super quality music,” Ludford said. “We don’t always play a lot of our slower sad songs, but since it’ll be an album release party and people will be there for the music, we’re going to play some of our more political and more introspective songs. We’ll get people dancing though, too. We’ll do both.”
Local muscians Adam Cox and Dana Louise, who helped contribute to the album, will be opening up for the band. There will be booths from local organizations there as well. Be sure to look for LEAFF, Tri Cycle Farms, Appleseeds, and the burgeoning Fayetteville community radio.
After the regional CD release parties are over, Handmade Moments will be touring across the midwest and west coast for the rest of the summer and early fall for four months. So if you’ve never recieved a Handmade Moment, be sure to check out their jazzy, folky CD release dance party July 24.
What: Handmade Moments CD Release Party
Who: Handmade Moments, Adam Cox, Dana Louise
Where: Smoke and Barrel Tavern, 324 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville
When: 9 p.m. Thursday, July 24