Review: Haint Blue – Overgrown
Right out the gate I’m going to have to let you all know that this band is not metal or even metal adjacent. I was honestly equal parts surprised and confused to see this promo slide into my inbox by way of Toilet Ov Hell. I’m glad it did, though.
Haint Blue is an Americana folk group from Baltimore, oozing with tons of Appalachian and bluegrass sounds, though it stays far from old timey or hokey. Overgrown sees frontman Mike Cohn explore his own life in deeply personal and heartbreaking ways. From him and his best friend needing to run away from their families’ fundamentalist beliefs, to falling into pill addiction and losing that best friend in the aftermath of escaping that pitfall, everything in Overgrown is vulnerable, honest, and commendable. The honesty is layered over the skillful playing of a group of great musicians, who lend their own emotional weight and energy to the record, taking it from something that’s just an interesting story of struggle to something worth coming back to again and again.
Like a lot of folk music, the melodies can often sound deceptively upbeat, with the heartbreak hidden within the lyrics for those who take the time to listen to the poetry. While there are hints at the tough subject matter melodically and through moments where lyrics shine through, it all comes to a head with the track “Mama, God,” where the lines from Love You Forever, the influential children’s book by Robert Munsch but with the perspective flipped around—I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living your baby I’ll be. Remember that Cohn made the difficult decision to run away from his family. This puller of heartstrings is followed up by “2/10,” referencing the recidivism rates for addicts.
This isn’t to say that Overgrown is the Americana equivalent to a funeral doom record. There are moments of triumph, acceptance, joy. It’s just that Cohn is honest about the hard road it took to get there.
Even if Americana sound isn’t really your thing I’d recommend giving Overgrown a try. If you like Panopticon’s acoustic sections chances are Haint Blue won’t be too far away from your wheelhouse and this is a project that deserves to be heard.