REVIEW: I See Hawks in L.A.’s “Live and Never Learn” is Laid Back California Vibe


California country quartet I See Hawks in L.A. has released their first album in five years – Live and Never Learn. And, with 14 songs, many of which push the five-minute mark, they have plenty of livin’ (and maybe even a little learnin’) to share.

A laid-back, hippie vibe runs throughout the album, and the adventurous length of many of the tunes give them time to languorously unspool. The first song, “Ballad For The Trees”, favors nature over technology, warning of the perils of social media – “Facts that come too early/And friends we never see.”  The title track questions the merits of good intentions: “I try so hard to do what’s right/But that won’t get me through Friday nights.” “Pour Me” both celebrates and bemoans the effects of too much booze – it can help you to relax after a hard week, but it’ll more than likely deepen your sadness. Yes, even Californians get the blues.

The California theme, in fact, is clear throughout the album. “Last Man In Tujunga” is emblematic of the San Fernando Valley – a couple breaks up via cellphone while a wildfire rapidly approaches: “The flames are lickin’ at the gates of my own private hell.” Sweet vocal harmonies grace nearly every song, and a love of nature abounds. “Tearing Me In Two” espouses the casual passage of time – “Idle hands are heaven’s tool” – while asking us to enjoy the best that nothingness can be – “It takes no time to be weightless.” And “The Isolation Mountains” is nothing more than a sweet, slightly sad natural lullabye.

The band’s primary songwriters, Robert Waller and Paul Lacques, are joined by bassist Paul Marshall and drummer Victoria Jacobs in penning tunes for the album. Jacobs, in particular, shows a gift for storytelling with “My Parka Saved Me”, a semi-autobiographical tale told (and debated) by gently dueling storytellers. Songwriting credits also go to Peter Davies of the U.K.’s Good Intentions (“White Cross” and “Singing In The Wind”) and fellow Golden Staters Old Californio (“King of the Rosemead Boogie). Dave Zirbel contributes country pedal steel, and organist Danny McGough appears in “Parka.” Four-time Grammy-winning mixer Alfonso Rodenas finished off the project, a great album for those who like their country with a side of the psychedelic.  Get your copy here.

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