Hey Mama, Hey Mama | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Hey Mama, Hey Mama 

Album Review


(Self-released, CD)

Formerly Burlington-based duo Avi and Celia have long been darlings of the local Americana scene. And why not? Their breezy take on boy-girl folk is pleasantly charming and almost nauseatingly cute — but in a good way. However, the pair, now living in Boston, has done something perhaps unfathomable to longtime fans. Avi and Celia have gone electric with a new outfit dubbed Hey Mama. Obviously, the change isn’t as controversial as say, Bob Dylan plugging in at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. Still, it’s a surprising move. But based on the strength of the group’s blues-rock-fueled, self-titled debut, it’s a good one.

From the initial rambling acoustic-guitar lick that opens the disc on “At the End of the Day,” most Avi and Celia fans might not notice anything terribly different from their earlier efforts. But that notion is laid to rest by the first chorus, as Celia Woodsmith’s bluesy howl is joined forcefully by Avi Salloway’s ragged slide guitar and — what’s this? — a crack rhythm section consisting of bassist Ben Kogan and drummer Jared Seabrook. And no, it’s not an anomaly.

“Bull Woman Blues” is a roadhouse scorcher. Salloway proves a vicious axe man, his intensity matched only by Woodsmith’s bruising vocals. Perhaps his ace chops were previously mellowed by his mostly acoustic musings. But dude can rip.

In reality, we probably should have seen this coming. It’s not as though Avi and Celia were ever strictly folk traditionalists. Their music has always borne shades of blues, country and rock. But Hey Mama’s electrified aesthetic seems to have granted the duo freedom to explore sonic terrain beyond their previous output.

Take “Mountain Bones,” for example. A rippling phalanx of strings weaves gently around swooning vocal harmonies. It’s sort of like indie-folk for the blues-rock set. Those same strings — again arranged by Salloway — reappear on the heartsick ballad “Sweet Low Song,” soothing Woodsmith’s exquisitely anguished, soulful wail.

On “Red Signs, White Fences” Salloway pens some delicious horn lines, expertly delivered by saxophonist Alec Spiegelman.

“Whiskey Bayou” is a brooding, appropriately murky slow burn and takes full advantage of Salloway’s reverb-drenched guitar. “I Give This to You” closes the affair in celebratory blues-rock splendor.

So, yes, Avi and Celia have plugged in. But the change is not as abrupt as it might seem. New band or not, the two retain the wily charms that have long endeared them to local fans while revealing some previously overlooked nuances that might do the same to new audiences.

Hey Mama release their debut disc at Nectar’s this Saturday, December 5.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author

About The Author

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles is Seven Days' assistant arts editor and also edits What's Good, the annual city guide to Burlington. He has received numerous state, regional and national awards for his coverage of the arts, music, sports and culture. He loves dogs, dark beer and the Boston Red Sox... more


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Latest in Album Review

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2022 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation