Like many of you, our hearts get all warm and fuzzy when we happen upon a small, yet brilliant band or artist. The hope is that, in some way or another, we can use our connections to get that band or artist at least one more fan. This is why everyone was excited when the music of Heyward Howkins showed up on our desks. Not only has Howkins been a wonderful man to briefly chat with, but he is also the mastermind behind this LP that was released back in July. With beautiful vocals and acoustic, sometimes bluesy accompaniment, The Hale & Hearty is one for all of you to check out.
It opens up with “Thunderin’ Stop”, a song with a feel that sounds like a brainchild between Bon Iver and The Tallest Man on Earth. The lyrics are kicked out with a choral approach and are backed by an impressive string section. Title track “Hale & Hearty” comes next, a quick starter with an Edward Sharpe feel (plus an intoxicating bassline). With this song being a perfect example, Howkins breaks out as many instruments as possible to paint what turns out being a very lovely picture. Bells and a short trumpet help lead this song into a groove at the end that gets your legs moving. “Spanish Moss” is one of the least instrument-ridden tracks of the LP, but it is one of the most powerful. Aspects of booming drumkits, harmonies, and electric guitar come up as Howkins’ muttered vocals put you in a trance. “Sugar Sand_Stitched Lip” has a sort of jazzy feel sprinkled with Jack Johnson influence. It uses a choral undertone to make the song seem more lively, and keeps all percussion out of it other than a tambourine.
“Waist High or Dry” features an electric piano and stuttery drum patterns that are reminiscent of Grizzly Bear. It adds to the groove of the song greatly, and it also starts to shift the overall sound of the album. “The Raucous Calls of Morning” has an amazing indie-folk feel. It shuffles back and forth between a pulsing jam and and slower, piano-focused track. Howkins’ vocal performance is out of this world, and the song also features backup vocalists to fill out the sound. Next up is “Flash Mob”, one of the album’s fast tracks with a lot of drum fills and electric guitar. The song has a feel that puts festival season in your mind, both very summery and danceable. “TheLiveOak” tones the energy down once again, and it goes back to the core sound of the beginning of The Hale & Hearty. “Plume and Orange” is 0ne of the record’s high points. The rhythm section successfully drives this one, and Howkins’ unique collection of instruments again make an appearance. If you have no desire to here this album, at least check out this song. Your mind will change quickly. The album then gets closed out with the almost bluegrass “Cocaine Bill”, and the mellow yet upbeat “Hudson Piers”.
Heyward Howkins’ debut LP The Hale & Hearty is able to quickly establish his unique sound that straddles the boundaries of modern folk. Many influences are heard in the record, and they all got somehow mashed together into a pretty alright cluster. The use of many instruments is by no means excessive, and actually adds to the album hugely. An overall impressive debut album, The Hale & Hearty grabs an 82/100. Also, check out the Heyward Howkins Bandcamp.
The Hale & Hearty Tracklisting:
- Thunderin’ Stop
- Hale & Hearty
- Spanish Moss
- Sugar Sand_Stitched Lip
- Waist High or Dry
- The Raucous Calls of Morning
- Flash Mob
- Plume and Orange
- Cocaine Bill
- Hudson Piers