Glowing Lantern, the new album from beloved band The Mother Hips, is set for release on December 3 via Blue Rose. Becoming the 11th studio recording in The Mother Hips’ discography, Glowing Lantern tops off a momentous year for the northern California-based band in which they celebrated their 30th anniversary by reissuing nine of their previous studio albums on vinyl. The first single from the 11-track collection, “Looking At Long Days”—a rousing, tongue-in-cheek ode to hard-earned wisdom—premiered on Blue Rose founder Joe Poletto’s new podcast Later Days. On the same episode, Poletto speaks to The Mother Hips’ founding members Tim Bluhm and Greg Loiacono about the meaning behind the song and album title, as well as, their songwriting process.
Written and recorded through the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, Glowing Lantern is a work of great comfort, even as it grapples with the profound anxiety of these troubling and uncertain times. The songs here are weighty ruminations wrapped in unflagging optimism and bittersweet streams of consciousness delivered with a jaunty confidence in better days to come.
“The glowing lantern is a universal symbol for sanctuary,” explains Bluhm. “That’s what we wanted this album to be: a warm safe place to get in out of the dark cold night.”
Tim Bluhm and Greg Loiacono produced the album themselves, and the juxtaposition of darkness and light in their stark lyrics and buoyant arrangements reflect an inherent tension in the human condition as they attempt to make sense of the inexplicable. At the heart of it all, though, is a distinct sense of camaraderie, a feeling of closeness and brotherhood that the band has ironically only come to rediscover as a result of the past year of isolation and lockdowns. As collaborative a record as The Mother Hips have ever made, it’s impossible not to feel the joy, gratitude, and friendship radiating from the music within.
“When we first started the band, we wrote everything together,” says Loiacono. “But as we got older and were on the road more and all grew into our adult lives, it became more of an independent process where we’d add our touches to each other’s songs in the studio. With this album, though, Tim and I had so much time together that we were able to get back to really integrating both of our instincts and sensibilities into the architecture of every single track from the start.”
Fueled by elastic guitars and a tight groove, album opener “Sunset Blues” is an infectious slice of effervescent country funk, but dig a bit beneath the playful surface and its lyrics suggest a pervasive unease. Indeed, the vast majority of the record bears the emotional imprint of the past year in one form or another. The blistering “Clay Mask Clown” channels the towering rock and roll of The Who as it faces down doubt and anxiety head-on, while the cinematic “What Happened To You” wrestles with change and uncertainty, and the Gene Clark-esque “Green Linen” contemplates distance and loneliness. Even more playful tracks like the easy-grooving “For Staying Here” and sweeping album closer “I Wish The Wind” are tinged with melancholy. Yet by embracing the feelings of doubt and apprehension that have defined the world of late and wrapping them in lifted, communal performances, The Mother Hips have managed to craft a sonic invitation for the listener to to lay down their burdens, a reminder that even at our lowest, we’re never alone.
“I think the pandemic made it easier for me to see just how much music really means to people,” reflects Bluhm. “It can be easy to take it for granted, but when it all goes away, you’re reminded how important it is, how comforting it can be in difficult times.”
The Mother Hips will support Glowing Lantern with select tour dates around the U.S. to be announced shortly. In the meantime, the four-piece unit has a number of dates scheduled around California, including a set this weekend at Beachlife Festival in Redondo Beach, CA, as well as, their annual Hipnic XII festival in Big Sur, CA from September 24 through September 26i, including performances by Chuck Prophet, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Vetiver and more.
The Mother Hips – Glowing Lantern
- Sunset Blues
- Looking At Long Days
- Mountain Of Love
- Green Linen
- Nature’s Twisting Heart
- Clay Mask Clown
- What Happened To You
- Song In A Can
- I Don’t Want To Drive You Away
- For Staying Here
- I Wish The Wind
9/11 – Redondo Beach, CA – Beachlife Festival
10/2 – Chico, CA – The Commons Social Emporium
10/3 – Chico, CA – Chico Woman’s Club
10/16 – Auburn, CA – Odd Fellow’s Lodge
10/22 – Morro Bay, CA – The Siren
10/23 – Venice, CA – The Venice West
10/30 – Oakland, CA – The New Parish
10/31 – Mill Valley, CA – Sweetwater Music Hall
Photography by Andrew Quist