The HawtThorns – Tarot Cards and Shooting Stars
I’m a sucker for assertive female vocals with lots of individuality & musical identity. KP Hawthorn has a lovely strong rock-oriented vocal tinged with just enough folksiness, country-ness, & tonality that is honey to the ears. The lead-off “All The Right Reasons,” with its drums, sparkling guitars & KP’s pristine vocals are excellently performed. It’s a great way to be introduced to an essential band.
“This One Is Ours,” is an ass-kicker. The musicianship pops & KP soars. I hear the skill in KP’s voice like the enthusiasm I heard in the 60s folk-pop band from Australia The Seeker’s. Their lead vocalist Judith Durham had many memorable hits with her fine vocals (“I’ll Never Find Another You”).
California’s The HawtThorns’ (as the duo spells it) sophomore release Tarot Cards and Shooting Stars (Drops Feb 25–Mule Kick Records) are 10-smartly conceived songs filled with fine musicianship highlighted by Ms. Hawthorn’s incisive vocals. The majority are originals written by Johnny Hawthorn (electric guitars) & KP (acoustic guitar/keys/percussion/mandolin/backing vocals).
Joining them: Matt Lucich (drums), Eliot Lorango (bass), Kaitlin Wolfberg (strings) & Sasha Smith (keys). The collection was produced by Steve Berns & The HawtThorns. Though many are country-leaning the songs vary. If ever there was a duo that successfully welded a pop sensibility to roots music they get my vote.
This set was recorded in LA & Nashville & while some writers describe their music as “lush” I disagree. They have muscle, the musical arrangements are savvy, & when they sing together on “The One That Got Away,” richness. Nothing lush.
On “Keep It Alive,” KP’s intonation is close to the vocalizing style of legendary 60s singer Melanie Safka. The song itself sounds like something Melanie would’ve done. Anyone familiar with Safka’s work would take that as a compliment. Safka too was a writer/performer who straddled the fence of pop/folk sensibility. Her “Lay Down (Candles In the Rain)” is a classic. “Keep It Alive,” is mindful of this quality. They’re also a great live band.
KP is not a marginally talented vocalist in a country band. She has power & maintains an emotional smoothness. “One Human At a Time,” is marvelous stuff. There’s a spiritual undertone, much the same as “Lay Down Candles,” all they need are the Edwin Hawkins Singers to certify it. As is, the tune is a beauty. The musicians leave an aroma of soul throughout the showcase.
The duo & its band have developed a technique of musicality that’s impressive & attractive. They even look good together on the inside panel of the CD would’ve been a better choice of front cover. There’s an elegance, sophistication & classic look to this image. KT, of course, is far better looking than the two (just kidding).
Photos by: Michael Becker. The 39-minute CD @ Amazon, Bandcamp + https://www.thehawtthorns.com/