Mudflowers is the third long player from HP Gundersen's ever-evolving recording project the Last Hurrah!!. As with the noted Norwegian producer's first two albums under this moniker, the band is completely different this time out and so is the music. This set directly references Los Angeles, particularly its country-rock scene, though Gundersen couldn't resist weaving in some British-flavored psych pop, blues, and even a little soul. It features an international cast fronted by California vocalist and songwriter Maesa Pullman (daughter of actor Bill) on all but two cuts -- delivered by her cousin Rita. Veteran pedal steel player Marty Rifkin is a constant, and emergent session drummer Kiel Feher handles all but one cut, which features a guest spot by Nashville's Larry Mullins. Singer/songwriter Miranda Lee Richards appears on backing vocals, too. Several Norwegian session players -- including pianist Kare Sandvik and string player Mari Persen -- round out the cast. Gundersen plays guitar and co-wrote most of the material with lyricists Leslie Ahern and Pullman. "Okay" is a country breakup waltz delivered with Rifkin's steel weeping alongside the pain and longing in Pullman's voice, as strings and upright piano color the margins. Gundersen's love of Grams Parsons' and the earliest Flying Burrito Brothers album are referenced first here, and revisited often throughout the set. The explicit eros in "Can't Wait No More" contrasts girl group pop and Capitol Studio groove if it were played in a smoky, dimly lit honky tonk. Rita Pullman's lead vocal on "You Ain't Got Nothing" has the structure of a carefully constructed British pop single from the mid-'60s, but the whining steel guitar amid Gundersen's rave-up guitar licks makes it almost perverse. "You Soothe Me" is Hammond-fueled blues with stinging, swampy licks threaded between the two guitars and organ, then slips briefly into the Scandinavian psych terrain of Parson Sound, Harvester, and Träd, Gräs och Stenar, with Pullman's voice at its most sultry. "Tried to Lose You" is another blues, but it's harder and hotter, with wailing harmonica, furious Latin conga, and funky drum work. On Mudflowers, Gundersen threads so many sounds, genres, styles, and nuances through one another that in the end, he ends up erasing the boundaries that separate them. In trying to re-create the music he's long admired -- all at once -- through the Last Hurrah!!'s kaleidoscopic persona, he's moved beyond the trappings of mere nostalgia. Via the music of Mudflowers, the historical past is vital and ever present.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek