Last False Hope’s long waited debut album has lived up to the hype. Condensing screeching street punk vocals and metal breakdowns with the twang and dynamics of traditional blue grass, Dig Nails Deep is an internal power struggle from start to finish—layering the group’s uncanny instrumentation with lead singer Jahsie P’s desperate accounts of self-destruction.
While intense throughout, the albums greatest strength is its ability to maintain this aggressive volume without detracting from the orchestration of the group’s string section—comprised of violin, upright bass, two acoustic guitars, and Jashie P’s own mandolin picking. The guitar work is very impressive—utilizing minor scales reminiscent of the Gypsy jazz first made famous by Django Reinhardt, and now experiencing a resurgence thanks to the folk punk revival which spawned Last False Hope.
Dig Nails Deep first single “Drinking You Goodbye” perfectly exemplifies this balance of reckless abandon and melodic grace, and it is a no-brainer that the band pushed it to the top of their list—other standout tracks include “Alone I Fall” and the album’s extensive closer, “Menthlehem,” which clocks in at seven and a half minutes.
Last False Hope more than hold their own musically, but Dig Nails Deep is bolstered even further by its numerous guest appearances. The album is produced by Shooter Jennings—acclaimed rock artist and son of country legend, Waylon Jennings— who in addition to manning the board alongside engineer Mickey T. Craft, also contributes synthesizers to “My Marybeth” and “Methlehem;” both of which also showcase the pipes of female vocalist Nellie Wilson, while “Tear it Out” features The Casualties lead singer, Jorge Herrera.
The record’s only delta, a fairly small one, is its limited lyrical space. For songs encompassing such range, the lyrics center on somewhat redundant themes of suicide, substance abuse, and depression—while fitting themes for the minor, melancholy songs they are accompanying, I feel that they could have been explored in different perspectives from song to song—though this does create cohesion throughout if nothing else. If the group’s immense progress in the three years they have been together is any indicator of things to come, I am sure this range will expand with time as well.
With Dig Nails Deep, Last False Hope have established themselves as major players in the national punk scene, and proven their versatility—raising their glass to the golden age while creating—or perhaps destroying— something all their own.
Recommended for fans of Old Crow Medicine Show, Choking Victim, The Unseen, Slayer, and Gogol Bordello.