Hampton Street Stage – 12:45
“Dance around your honest conversation,” sings Hunter Park to open the new EP from Charleston’s She Returns From War. It’s a fitting thesis given the four songs that follow. Each ruminates, in that classic alt-country way, on lovers left or leaving. Abetted by tasteful harmonies from Jesse Ledford and drummer/lead guitarist Charlie King, Park’s voice shines. Reminiscent of Andrew Combs or early Ryan Adams, it’s a reedy, occasionally androgynous twang, capable of emoting serious pain and regret.
While the four songs all cover similar terrain, they do it well, with strummy guitar and banjo dominating, as King lays down sturdy drum parts and tasteful leads. Guest pedal steel guitarist Rhodes Bailey provides a few wistful solos to fill things out.
As a lyricist, Park works best telling stories in haunting fragments, with references to demons and phantoms walking the streets and leaving indelible marks. “Remember the time we turned water into wine? / You were Jesus Christ and now I’m drinking alone,” she sings on “Taylor Made.” Its lovely finger-picked guitar line and lush, but distant, keyboard chords pair well with lyrics that shift elegantly between figurative and plain-spoken.
While there’s a strong similarity here to a host of other Charleston-associated acts — Jordan Igoe, Shovels & Rope, Rachel Kate, The Royal Tinfoil — there’s enough individual spark and humble beauty to make these tunes stand out in a crowded local field.
—Kyle Petersen, Free Times