Phoebe Hunt

REVIEW: Phoebe Hunt “Nothing Else Matters”


Phoebe Hunt – Nothing Else Matters

When you’ve got something to say, say it simply. That’s the thought Phoebe Hunt had for her latest album. After a musical lifetime of playing in (and leading) bands, the singer-songwriter-fiddle player has stripped it down to just those three items – a voice, a pen and a bow (and a little pizzicato). Nothing Else Matters is a record about Hunt’s goals, her relationships, her existence, so why bury it under layers of music when she has all the tools she needs?

Every note on Nothing Else Matters comes from Hunt’s voice and fiddle, and she also produced the album. The spareness of the approach was partially inspired by the conditions under which most of the album was written – isolated in Nashville in 2020, away from her bandmates, who were in Brooklyn, and trying to make sense of the unprecedented downtime in her life. The title track, written with fellow Nashvillian Maya DeVitry, springs from that time and the feelings of emptiness that it brought – “If I go too far, if I go too fast/I could break my only heart.” But, even as the pandemic and the ensuing isolation stoked these fears, it also opened up new possibilities, borne out of necessity. Hunt chose to record these songs solo partially as a result of that separation, a sentiment that’s reflected toward the end of the song as a sort of bittersweet goodbye – “I don’t need to see the sunset/To know that we have parted.”

This new simplicity became Hunt’s ethos for the entire album – “no bells, no whistles, no overdubs, no frills,” as she and recording and mixing engineer Lawson White agreed. So, in songs like “The Archer,” Hunt’s fiddle becomes a character as much as an instrument, commenting as she wavers between love and life as-is – “For the freedom I hunger/What he doesn’t know, he can’t see.” “Galloping” is fiddled at a near-breakneck pace as Hunt ponders how hard to pursue her dreams – “Are you running so fast that you’re flying away?” And the pining “Molly, My Dear” pins the two together – love, unrequited and pursued only passively. Written with an 80-year-old student, Bob Alzapiedi, from her online music school (Plant Seeds of Music), in an effort to show a love sweet rather than possessive – “I see you on a Sunday but never on a Monday/Would that change if I just said hello?” Nothing Else Matters is full of questions that try to balance too much vs. not quite enough – in love, in dreams, in everyday life. For these questions, the stripped-down approach of Phoebe Hunt and her fiddle turns out to be just enough.

Song I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: “Carry On” – Hunt at her most resolute, with urgent playing, expressive vocals and the excellently evocative phrase “cacophonies of pain.”

Nothing Else Matters was produced by Phoebe Hunt, recorded and mixed by Lawson White and mastered by Daniel Bacigalupi. All songs written by Phoebe Hunt, with co-writing credits going to Maya DeVitry, Beth Cooke, Robert Alzapiedi, Dustin Welch, Savannah Welch, John Evans, Sarah Jean Kelly, Jillette Johnson and Rachel Baiman,

Go here to order Nothing Else Matters (out July 28):

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