(Young Scientist Records, CD)
The Milkman's Union is the nom de rock of 17-year-old Henry Jamison-Root, quite an impressive whippersnapper. The Burlington resident recorded Here's Hoping in his bedroom over three weeks last summer, playing every note on the album from viola to drum machines, guitars to mandolin. What's more, the disc is released on his own Young Scientist imprint.
Jamison-Root's talent is impossible to ignore -- ubiquitous area songsmiths Colin Clary and Pete Sutherland have already praised his work -- and Here's Hopingis a great primer for the uninitiated. With 11 tracks clocking in at just over three quarters of an hour, the record gives listeners a detailed tour of Jamison-Root's skills in an easy-to-digest sonic capsule.
"Take this heart / From my ribs / 'Cuz love will be the end of me," Jamison-Root sings on "Parzival" over a backdrop of thudding drums, jangling guitars and sugary background vocals. "Kings or Queens" features some prime mandolin picking and a jaunty, loping melody. "A Flicker" is a high point, a moody, mellow love song accented with flights of mandolin. "News for You" ventures into serious Dylan worship but manages to still sound both charming and original.
Here's Hoping overflows with catchy, hum-along pop hooks, but ultimately it's Jamison-Root's trad folk influences that stand out. Like Bright Eyes, the young songsmith melds elements of country and folk with the fiery emotion of a modern teen. But instead of depressive rants, Jamison-Root's work projects level-headedness that results in a consistent listening experience. This new Vermont talent is worth keeping an eye on. A CD release party takes place on Saturday, March 25, at 3 p.m. at Burlington's Firehouse Gallery.