Flyinshoes Review

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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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1
Rod Picott
70 pts.
Out Past The Wires
Welding Rod Music
GC,AN,LM,SZ,TK
2
JW Roy & The Royal Family
62 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,PJ,DH
3
Steph Cameron
61 pts.
Daybreak over Jackson Street
Pheromona
ML
4
JD McPherson
54 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
AR,RK,LK
5
Sarah Morris
53 pts.
Hearts In Need Of Repair
Independent
 
6
Turnpike Troubadours
52 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
MA,GF
7
Chris Hillman
51 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
 
8
Hayward Williams
39 pts.
Pretenders
Why River Records
KG,JB,JBO
9
Joe Henry
38 pts.
Thrum
Ear Music
 
10
Jim White
37 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
JJ
12
Margo Price
35 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
 
11
Mark Martyre
35 pts.
Rivers
Independent
MF
13
Mavis Staples
32 pts.
If All I Was Was Black
Anti
HO
 
Peter Oren
32 pts.
Anthropocene
Western Vinyl
RB,HB
15
Fred Wickham
29 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
 
16
Jeffrey Martin
27 pts.
One Go Around
Fluff & Gravy Records
HDB
17
Blitzen Trapper
25 pts.
Wild and Reckless
Lojinx
JDO
 
Jeff Crosby
25 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records
FCE,FC,JS
19
Dori Freeman
24 pts.
Letters Never Read
Blue Hens Music
 
 
Hardpan
24 pts.
Hardpan
Blue Rose Records
WR
21
The Deep Dark Woods
21 pts.
Yarrow
Six Shooter
JF
22
Lilly Hiatt
20 pts.
Trinity Lane
New West
TJ
 
Tom Russell
20 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
JAB
24
Eilen Jewell
19 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
MW
25
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
FS

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