hhhhhh – rich bedroom folk


I’m not usually into soft, quiet folk music. I always say that “a guy with a guitar” is one of those genres that just doesn’t connect with me (we all have them; no one listens to “everything”). Yet, there are always exceptions to every rule, and, for me, hhhhhh is that exception.

hhhhhh is the moniker of Hector Guerra, and from the sound of it, he record all of his latest album, Few Said…, solo in his bedroom. It spills over with acoustic guitars, shakers, tambourines and double-tracked, heavily-reverberated vocals, and could very easily sound like nothing special. However, Guerra’s captivating vocals and personal lyrics elevate this music into the realm of one of my favorite new records of the last few months.

Album opener “I’m Sorry” illustrates all of Few Said…‘s best attributes perfectly. It begins with a Byrds-like ringing guitar line that quickly resolves into a hooky melody as Guerra whispers apologies for nearly every aspect of his being in a resolute falsetto. Guerra’s voice, like his arrangement here, never quite rises to full steam, and that’s what draws you in. For the rest of the album – falsetto or not – Guerra’s singing voice pulls you in, remaining hushed and inviting. It alternates between vulnerable and powerful at the drop of a hat.

The same goes for Guerra’s lyrics. The entire album is almost bipolar, as Guerra fuses feelings of true self-despair with moments of brash confidence. On “I’m Sorry,” he sings “I’m sorry for the way that I feel / for the way that I steal” one moment, sounding genuinely remorseful for both of these things, but one line later he changes his tune (figuratively), “I’m sorry for the way that I am / ’cause I don’t give a damn.” The remorse has vanished, but the difference in Guerra’s delivery is quite nuanced to illustrate that the line between the good and the bad parts about you is probably a lot finer than most of us realize.

The rest of Few Said… explores this same ambiguous space. On “Party Time Excellent,” Guerra laments being a “weirdo,” while confusedly trying to embrace what he is missing. A few tracks later on “Bad For You,” he sighs, “You know I’m bad for you / I’m just so typical,” implying that being weird is exactly what the doctor ordered. “Hey Gurl” finds Guerra blaming the object of his affections for her own indecision, while the chorus of”The Only Reason” is “The only reason I’m alive is you,” revealing an extreme vulnerability and a remarkable love for his subject.

For all of the lyrical successes, Few Said… really triumphs because of the music. At times, hhhhhh sounds like Shakey Graves with jazzier chords; at other times, it’s a lonelier Kurt Vile. Either way, it’s a gripping record that grows richer with each spin. The exception to the rule.

– Carter Delloro