Album Review: Hello Industry – When I Was Young
Hello Industry is the married duo of Nathan and Heather Peterson. They are pretty much the kind of people we all wish we could be; inspiring, resilient, and able to make beauty out of sadness. Before I get to the story, know that this might be a difficult read for some of you. The story of their daughter Olivia, born with a fatal disease and not expected to live a week, is both really sad and really beautiful. But the video is very emotional, so be warned.
As for the music, Hello Industry are an acoustic duo. Nathan usually handles the lead part and does so admirably. Heather’s accenting harmonies make for a warm and familiar sound. Their songs often address ideas of family, love, and togetherness. They remind a bit of Jenny and Tyler, who we’ve covered recently.
The title track “When I Was Young” gets the album off to an upbeat start, even though it’s a kind of melancholic nostalgia. “Now I’m just old, you’re feeling cold, what happened to us?” Maybe it’s the tragedy that they’ve drifted, but remain rooted in better days. That said, it gets the album off an emotional start that sustains through all of the tracks.
The piano heavy “So Much For Love” is darker than you might expect for an album like this. “…they came and they took you away…” is the key lyric at the core of the song. It’s dark, yet seemingly with layers of interesting imagery. As the song breaks from being a piano tune to a fuller downtempo rock song, it’s evident that the songwriter (Nathan?) has a background in 90s alt rock. It’s full of a certain kind of passive angst that feels familiar and fresh all at once.
Skipping ahead some, “The Innocent Will Die” is another intriguing song from this unpredictable duo. The sonic structure focuses on a minor key, giving the lyrical content a shadowy tone. The repetitive “anything is possible” seems to point toward a hopeful end. “The innocent will die…” seems to have a loaded spiritual message about a fallen and broken world, but it’s not immediately evident.
The real heartbreaking tune, though, is “Olivia.” The song is about the couple’s daughter, born with a fatal disease and not expected to live more than a week. The way her father writes about what she will never get to do in her life is absolutely heart-wrenching. Beyond that, the music has a hopeful resonance to it that transcends the other songs on the album. It’s a beautiful tribute.
The final track “Inch of Water” is an acoustic guitar feature that is as sweet as it is engaging. It shows off some of Nathan’s singing chops more than other songs on the album. Again there’s a dark reality to it and the fleeting nature of life. That said, the acoustic guitar melody is eerily comforting.
This is an interesting and at times challenging album. The lyrical content is much darker than expected from a male-female folksy duo. But the album is worth a listen in support of good art. There’s a tenderness in the songs, especially in the second half of the album, that reveals a heart seeking to understand what President Lincoln once called the “better angels of our nature.” He knew a bit about seeing the beauty in the midst of tragedy. I think this album captures that humanity, humility, and uncertainty with superb emotive music.