Flyinshoes Review

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http://www.iseehawks.com/

These guys aren’t even halfway through their second decade as a band but there’s plenty of grey hair on display in the photo that adorns the cover of the new album. I guess they weren’t kids when they started out, then. It’s rather a nice photo, actually, an informal gathering of the I See Hawks family on a front porch in the California sunshine, collectively looking one part cowboy, one part hippy – which pretty much sums up the vibe they’ve consistently put out over their ever-interesting career.

Country rock is what they do, in a modern style of their own development: electric guitars, soaring pedal steel and great harmonies built around Rob Waller’s gruff (? not quite the word, but certainly bluff and manly) lead vocal.  The sound is distinctive, and so is the subject matter. They’ll tackle any old subject that tickles their fancy (celebrating the long-serving Senator Robert Byrd being a memorable example) but typically returning to eco-conscious subject matter and to man’s ancient past. Sometimes they’ve lost me completely and I’ve really had no idea what they’re on about, but they’ve always had an air about them of doing this band thing for their own amusement, above all – there’s never been a sense that they’re trying to construct an audience that’ll make ‘em all rich.

So, thirteen new songs here in that distinctive I See Hawks mold and, for me, this is their most enjoyable album yet. In the past I’ve always picked up an over-earnestness which made me feel like I was being lectured a bit, but this album is alive with waspish humour – maybe it’s just that I’m finally “getting it” with this lot.  The title song is one of those that loses me; “Where did you find it?” they keep asking in the refrain, but I can’t work out what the “it” is. No matter, it might come to me one of these days. Even I can’t miss the meaning of the flippant, dismissive Stop Driving Like An Asshole.  Along the way we take a trip to the local grocery store, learn about Oklahoma’s water crisis, consider the long flow of history that brought us to where we are, take a mature look at personal relationships and, most gloriously, take a wry look at the realities of being in a band, trying to keep the whole thing rolling. This last song is called We Could All Be In Laughlin Tonight, Laughlin being a Nevada resort much favoured by the RV crowd. It’s a typically eclectic range of material, and it’s all delivered with great panache; the pedal steel sounds like one of those hawks out in the wild blue yonder and there are some lovely bits of acoustic guitar lurking in that big sound that they make. This album is warm, it’s fun, it’s serious and it’s great music – can’t ask for anything more. 

John Davy

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November 2017

1
JW Roy & The Royal Family
80 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,BH,RST,LK
2
Chris Hillman
79 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
BP,FS,HD
3
Turnpike Troubadours
46 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
HM,TK
4
Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton
36 pts.
Wildflower Blues
Cinquefoil Records
TJ
5
Eilen Jewell
34 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
 
6
Lucinda Williams
31 pts.
This Sweet Old World
Highway 20/Thirty Tigers
BR,MW
7
JD McPherson
29 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
JS
8
Mark Martyre
26 pts.
Rivers
Independent
FC
 
Tom Russell
26 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
SP
10
Anna Tivel
25 pts.
Small Believer
Fluff And Gravy Records
MG
 
Margo Price
25 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
JB
12
Fred Wickham
22 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
RK
 
Joe Henry
22 pts.
Thrum
Ear Music
HVB,PJ
 
Whitney Rose
22 pts.
Rule 62
Six Shooter/Thirty Tigers
 
15
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
HDB,JJ
 
Jim White
18 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
LM,SZ
 
Peter Gallway
18 pts.
Feels Like Religion
Gallway Bay Music
CVL,DHO
18
Thomm Jutz
17 pts.
Crazy If You Let It
Mountain Fever Records
 
19
Kris Delmhorst
16 pts.
The Wild
Blue Blade Records
 
20
Daniel Crabtree
15 pts.
In The Shadow Of His Wings
Independent
 
 
Jeremy Pinnell
15 pts.
Ties Of Blood And Affection
Sofaburn Records
 
 
Julien Baker
15 pts.
Turn Out The Lights
Matador
EZ
23
Amber Cross
14 pts.
Savage on the Downhill
Independent
 
 
Chris Blevins
14 pts.
Better than Alone
Horton Records
 
 
David Rawlings
14 pts.
Poor David's Almanack
Acony Records
 
 
Grainne Duffy
14 pts.
Where I Belong
Independent
GC,RW
 
Jeff Crosby
14 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records

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