The name Hush Arbors can come across slightly hammy. Sure, it’s a bit too pastoral/‘au naturel,’ but I always felt it was a pretty accurate analogy for the quiet, rural folk of Keith Wood’s early sides. Since then, Wood’s lost a little of the daze, though songs like "Follow Closely" and "The Light" share vagueness as one of their defining traits.
A lot of that vagueness is a result of Wood’s voice, a gorgeously windy sigh that reminds of Glenn Donaldson’s awestruck, androgynous swoon in the Skygreen Leopards. Wood really comes into his own when he peels everything back to a lone acoustic guitar and vocals – "Rue Hollow”’s intimacy is powerful partly because it’s book-ended by two of Hush Arbor‘s most extroverted moments, but mostly because Wood knows exactly how to confer just the right emotional tenor on his songs, how to perform without overplaying his hand. Elsewhere, joined by Leon Dufficy and other friends (I do believe Six Organs Of Admittance’s Ben Chasny pops up from time to time – that’s him trading silver strings in "Follow Closely"), Wood goes for the kind of hermetic group vibe of Tower Recordings, circa Furniture Music For Evening Shuttles, or private-press folk gems of times past. Some of the thin, drilling guitar tones are redolent of direct-to-4-track overload, a nice reminder that Wood’s heart still lies with home tapers and bedroom maniacs.
Wood’s recent membership of Current 93 might offer some clues here. Much like Tibet and his colleagues’ reactivation of historical tropes (musical, textual, otherwise), Hush Arbors engage in a similar kind of revisitation, an interest in what ‘acid folk’ from the 1970s could have become. In this respect, Hush Arbors is close in spirit to what Damon & Naomi have been doing for the past decade or so, and it’s pretty close on qualitative terms, too, if a little less erudite. (It’s also brief, which is a blessing for any record.) No massive steps forward, admittedly, but I think Wood can justify exploring this patch of ground for a short while yet.