True Love


(LP - Grand Jury Music #GJ 00691)

Review by Marcy Donelson

Between the release of 2019's Heavy Lifter and their fourth album, True Love, Hovvdy's dual singer/songwriters, Charlie Martin and Will Taylor, both got married, and the latter became a father. Though not limited to romantic love, True Love is dedicated to relationships and fondness, resulting in the slowcore-descended duo's warmest collection to date. Also their richest-sounding, it was recorded in Los Angeles with Andrew Sarlo, best known at this point for producing Big Thief's first four LPs. It begins with a brief introductory track, "Sometimes," which opens proceedings with the words "I will always look up to you." Accompanied by acoustic guitar and soft, sustained keys, its melodic stream of consciousness eventually expands to combine stratified harmonies and vocal-line layering. The song's welcoming, ethereal demeanor remains on point throughout an album arranged mostly for full band but distinctly low-key and guided by acoustic guitars and spare live drums. Divergences are minor and include the intimate, brushed twang of "Hue," an understated blend of acoustic strums and feedback on "Around Again," and a doughy web of sound comprising keys, guitars, buzzy effects, ghostly whispers, fretboard squeaks, harmonized vocal rounds, and more on "Hope." After repeatedly assuring "I'm on your side," the latter track strips away instruments to reveal atmospheric noise along the lines of powered air or traffic and electronic signal noise at the end. While Hovvdy was already known for their cloudy, window-seat climates, here, these types of extra touches produce a dreamy, soft-focus feel that keeps feet ungrounded alongside lyrics of heightened affection. While the set's sense of yearning and melodic wistfulness still makes it suitable for a rainy day, the only track that takes a downcast turn is the ambling closer "I Never Wanna Make You Sad," which acknowledges hard times: "Find a new normal/We'll be alright."