According to the title of Mars Arizona's latest release, the current state of affairs in the world is looking rather bleak. Though the album is filled with songs of struggle and sadness, Hello Cruel World is a bright spot on the Americana landscape. The San Francisco-based singer-songwriter duo of Paul Knowles and Nicole Storto manages to find the proverbial silver lining of good music while also conveying an overall sense of global disillusionment. The album's tasteful musical arrangements and spot-on harmony vocals are complemented by guest appearances from Al Perkins on pedal steel and David Grisman on mandolin. Along with thought-provoking original compositions, the duo also impresses by putting its own unique spin on songs from a broad range of artists including Neil Young ("Time Fades Away") and T. Rex ("By The Light Of A Magical Moon").