Philippe Bronchtein – Oregon Air

After three LPs and several other releases under the moniker Hip Hatchet, and touring all over as a multi-instrumentalist for the likes of Esme Patterson, The War and Treaty, Quiet Life, and others, Philippe Bronchtein decided to adopt his own name for his solo work. But fans of Hip Hatchet need not worry, last year’s full-length Me and the Moon proved that Bronchtein continues to write folk songs that combine what we described previously as “[his] distinctive vocals and unerring ability to write poignant, evocative vignettes.”

Now Philippe Bronchtein is back with a new EP, Oregon Air. Joined by The War and Treaty’s Max Brown on bass and Sam Wilson on guitar, as well as Josh McCewn on drums, the record is what Bronchtein calls a collection of “road-worn songs penned in the back of vans, airport gates, hotel rooms, and unfamiliar kitchen tables.” The result is as wistful as that sounds, Bronchtein following a long line of artists who have considered what is, what was, and what might’ve been.

The title track is rich with a grand sense of heart-warming nostalgia, McCewn’s percussion lending a sense of hope and positivity to a song about old friends, passing time and thoughts of belonging. Juxtaposing his childhood New Jersey with his adopted Portland, Oregon, Bronchtein allows memories to bleed into current images to weave a tapestry that explores just what we mean by home. As usual, Bronchtein’s songwriting is very strong, maintaining his unique voice while drawing from decades of folk and country traditions. “The moon bounced off the water,” he sings in a line that’s indicative of his easy lyricism, “like a ball against the ground.”

Built on finger-picked guitar and winding pedal steel, ‘Learning How To Say Goodbye’ is another song where the writing comes to the fore, all full moons and rising waterlines. Bronchtein tells Americans Highways how it was inspired during a spell at a friend’s property on the Cumberland River in Tennessee:

In the middle of winter, we were experiencing some uncharacteristically heavy rainfall. The river was well above its banks and moving very quickly. I drew inspiration from the swollen river to write a meditation about gracefully moving on.

These themes are knit tight into Oregon Air, as reflective and stirringly hopeful a release as Bronchtein has ever made. The EP is out now and you can get it from the Philippe Bronchtein webstore.