HGR CD Review: The Crew of the Half Moon

THE CREW OF THE HALF MOON – AUTOMYTHOGRAPHY (My Idea Of Fun) After establishing themselves over the past decade as songwriters on the Johnstown indie scene, Dan Oatman and Katie Rhodes merged their talents into The Crew Of The Half Moon early last year, and their creative chemistry has resulted in their debut CD, Automythography. Through the disc’s 16 tracks, Oatman and Rhodes merge a myriad of traditional folk instrumentation and styles with a modern, edgy songwriting style to produce a sound that is captivating and intriguing. Acoustic guitars, lap steel, mandolin, piano, ukulele, harmonica, bass, violin bow, tambourine and even a gin bottle make their ways into The Crew Of The Half Moon’s stew of Americana, folk, blues and bluegrass sounds. Both Oatman and Rhodes bring different singing styles to the table; Oatman’s relaxed cadence playing counterpoint to Rhodes’ bolder and more assertive style. The Crew Of The Half Moon’s lyrics blend personal observations and soul searching with touches of punk vinegar, as they measure the angst of traditional values vs. modern day realities; the blues-driven “Steel Town Blues/The Baby Blues” examines the clash between classroom education and real world education, while Rhodes weighs her own path and independence on the folksy “Jesus Figurines.” The duo reaffirm their solid footing as they face a plastic modern society on the bluegrass-toned “Six Feet Under.” Rhodes defines her peace of mind on the mandolin-underscored “The Great Recession,” but delves into darker terrain in a western motif on “Devil on My Side.” The arrangements are mostly basic, with the various instrumental mixtures supporting both Rhodes’ and Oatman’s clear and distinctive vocals. The production and mix are clean-sounding, enabling The Crew Of The Half Moon’s talents and words to shine front and center with minimal studio bells and whistles. The Crew Of The Half Moon establish their unique acoustic-laden world on Automythography, a different-sounding album that successfully merges traditional music flavors with a decidedly modern lyrical angst and edge. (The CD can be obtained through the website www.myideaoffun.org.)