Bradley Hathaway is a poet by trade, but a few years ago he picked up the guitar and decided to start setting his poems to music. I don't key too hard on people reading poems, but people singing poems set to ear-pleasing music is a whole other thing entirely.
How Long came out in December of 2013, and I heard it in January of 2014, too late for my Best of 2013 list. However, the album was supposed to be released on audio cassette in 2014, making it semi-eligible for my 2014 list. Doublehowever, the label that was supposed to release How Long on cassette had trouble with its distributor. I pre-ordered How Long during April of last year, and I was just notified a few days ago by the label that the cassettes had finally come in from the plant. Too late for my list again, but the record label did send me a digital copy of How Long to tide me over (and I had already streamed the album quite a bit), so I feel I should mention something about it so it doesn't get lost in the flow. Sadly, though, it appears How Long has already slipped through the cracks, as, according to Hathaway himself, it has sold a minuscule amount compared to the rest of his work. That's a shame. This album deserves some serious recognition.
How Long is laid-back country folk, but more abstractly, it sounds like a conversation on a back porch on a lazy summer day counterpointing a long drive on a lonely night. Hathaway's poetry explores absent fathers, surprising relationships, cold glasses of tea on a hot day, simple expressions of love, and the love of Jesus Christ. Don't let it pass you by. You can listen for free below.