Jenny Hoysten from the arty post-punk outfit Erase Errata and gothic Americana folk-bluesman William Whitmore might seem unlikely musical bedmates. However, this collaboration shows them to be surprisingly compatible. Maybe it should not be so unexpected, since they were once roommates. The music on Hallways of Always favors Whitmore's rustic sound, but the disc isn't without modern touches. In fact, the opening track "Feast of a Thousand Beasts" begins with the buzz of a synthesizer that soon intertwines with a banjo and singing saw. Similarly, Hoysten's honeyed, bittersweet singing plays nicely against Whitmore's sonorous, gritty vocals. The languorous second number "You've Already Gone" casts Hoysten and Whitmore as a couple whose love has gone sour. While they each take turns noting how things have changed (she: "You never say you love me anymore," he: "You never wear your hair down"), they both sing the dolorous refrain: "Now I'm leaving/But you've already gone." A flipside to "You've Already Gone"'s sad sentiments arrives a couple cuts later on "Marrow." This animated "shotgun wedding" tune, boasting some lively banjo picking by Whitmore, stands as a backwoods testament to love along the lines of the Cash-Carter classic "Jackson." Both Whitmore and Hoysten also get to do a song on their own. The title of Whitmore's solo number "Black Iowa Dirt" pretty much describes what the song is about. An ode to his Iowa farm roots, he reveals his connection to his homeland by stating: "I have that dirt underneath my fingernails/I've got that dirt running through my veins." Hoysten's song also is highly personal. In the emotionally powerful "We Miss You," she addresses her dead father and tells him how she misses him but that she'll "come to grips eventually." The EP ends with the expansive title track, an atmospheric instrumental that counterpoints Hoysten's solemn keyboard playing with Whitmore's gently plucked acoustic guitar. It's a piece that would work well on a movie soundtrack. Despite its brief length (under 30 minutes), Hallways of Always winds up as a rewarding side project for these two old friends and musical compatriots.
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AllMusic Review by Michael Berick