In August, experimental folk artist Odetta Hartman released her second album, Old Rockhounds Never Die, a follow-up to her 2015 debut, 222. Though “experimental folk” feels like an appropriate tag, Hartman’s music is not just one thing: She’s a whiz at the bass guitar, but she’s also fierce on the electric banjo; she sings with gospel soul, but her accompaniment is often a drum machine, an electronic warp or maybe even a gun shot. On her Facebook page, the musician describes herself as “cowboy soul,” a somewhat ambiguous but surprisingly accurate term—Hartman’s music sounds distinctly western, like she recorded Old Rockhounds Never Die in an abandoned train station in southern Texas surrounded by whisking tumbleweeds.
Last Friday, Oct. 26, Hartman stopped by the Daytrotter studios for a session, which you can watch below. She bounced through four songs from Old Rockhounds Never Die—the spooky almost-a-title-track “Old Rockhounds,” shivery stomper “You You,” plucky banjo number “Misery” and the rambling ranch poem “Cowboy Song”—plus two 222 tracks, “Batonebo” and “Dreamcatchers.” But the most impressive part of her set wasn’t the amount of songs she played, it was the amount of instruments she wielded. Hartman started the session with a bass, then switched to the violin for a blazing string solo, then finished out on the banjo. The sounds ranged from jittery to soulful to grimy—but never boring. Hartman is a hot-blooded performer and deft instrumentalist.
Again, you can watch Odetta Hartman’s entire Daytrotter session below.