ALTON, IL – Hymn River Suite announces an August 11 date for their new CD, Hundred Proof, released through CEN/RED Distribution, a division of Sony Music.Hailing from the banks of the Mississippi River across from St. Louis, Hymn River Suite is made up of the sibling duo Justin Mathenia and Amy Snyder. The pair seamlessly trade-off lead vocals, while meeting in the middle to create beautiful, honest harmonies. The group’s sound blends elements of traditional country and Southern rock in a fresh, new way.
Hundred Proof was mixed by Grammy-nominated Wes Sharon (John Fullbright, Turnpike Troubadours, Parker Millsap) and mastered by Eric Conn (Garth Brooks, John Pine, Joey+Rory). Sharon also co-produced the album with Mathenia and Snyder.
Justin Mathenia calls the lead-off track, “Enough” as “one of my favorite songs to play live. It’s just got that infectious Southern rock groove that gets everyone up and dancin’.” Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/adampnyc/enough/s-hKoGM?in=adampnyc/sets/hymn-river-suite/s-htPxa
“We wanted the songs on this record to really showcase who we are as musicians and artists, and we couldn’t do that without adding a straight up rock ‘n ‘roll track like “Bed of Leaves,” adds Amy.
The all-original 10 compositions on Hundred Proof contain very personal insights and inspirations, but all are universal in their appeal, with the title track being a perfect example.
“‘Hundred Proof’ is a special song for us. Having gone through the hell of loving people with addictions, our hope is this song can be a voice of understanding for others going through the same hell,” says Justin. “And ‘Up There’ contains my favorite lyric on the album (“If grace is real, maybe I’ll see you up there.”) You know it’s just an ode to, I don’t know what happens after this life, so I’ll live hard down here and see what happens next.”
The song “El Paso” shows the duo equally at home in country music. “It has all the tradition elements of a good country song, “observes Amy, “from the pedal steel to the lyrical content. The melody is so effectively simple and Justin’s tone in the delivery really takes it home.”
The pain and doubt in their music is evident as Justin Mathenia sings of his time spent in Iraq as a 50 caliber gunner. The heartbreak is tangible as Amy Snyder paints a beautiful picture of her time spent waiting for her husband to return from the war in Afghanistan. Each song takes the listener on a journey, whether it’s to a party on the lake or kneeling at a pew, the energy is palpable and the experience is shared.
One such track is “Pictures,” which Amy declares “is about the loneliness of not having the one you love with you and settling for a picture instead. Written by Justin while my husband was deployed to Afghanistan, this song really holds a special place in my heart. We always loved the song and wanted to use it on this record, but something was just off in the original demo we made five years ago. We decided we needed to come up with a totally new arrangement of the song and see where it went. I just started singing a melody and Justin followed along on the guitar. It all came together relatively effortlessly. I really feel like the song evolved perfectly into what it was always supposed to be.”
“Hillbilly Queen,” an early candidate for major radio airplay, features Amy Snyder’s upfront vocal in a honky-tonk tale about a gal who’s “fast and dangerous, and everything in-between.” As Amy explains it, “‘Hillbilly Queen’ is a tongue-in cheek tune about finding the right kind of man to keep up with a rough and rowdy lady. It’s a girl power song with a country twist.”
“Book of Songs” has a Southern rock element to it. “It’s a feel good jam about chasing dreams against your dad’s advice, failing at it, realizing maybe the old man was smarter than you thought, and then being just bull-headed enough to try it again,” says Justin.
“‘Fools Gold’ is my favorite tune on the whole album,” he adds. “A slow-paced traditional- leaning heart-breaker, I really just love the song and I love Wes Sharon’s mix on this tune. Wes just really brought our idea to life on this one.”
“We Were Kings,” which closes the album, also has a special meaning, as Amy states, and “is all about escaping from reality with your people. For us it’s the lake we fished in as kids, then partied around as teens, and now bring our own families to for a weekend away. It’s that place that holds so many memories from the past and still so many future adventures. We tried to bring that feel to the studio with the unplugged breakdown in the bridge. So many nights we’ve sat around a campfire singing songs with that vibe. It only seemed right to bring that same feeling to the studio version on this song.”
Hymn River Suite has been performing up and the down the Mississippi River, both as an acoustic duo and with a full band. The group more than holds its own as a headliner, but has also warmed up local crowds for national acts like American Aquarium, Casino and Steel Magnolia. With the release of Hundred Proof, Hymn River Suite will begin a series of tour dates throughout the Midwest, the Southeast and Texas, with booking by Joy Collingbourne of the MOB Agency (415) 944-0033 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hymn River Suite hi-res photo: