The HawtThorns is the slightly modified moniker for the artistic output of husband and wife duo KP and Johnny Hawthorn (the extra t remains a mystery). They bring a vast experience of rock, pop and country music into the style of their newly founded operation and you won’t be surprised to learn that such a melting pot of sounds is likely to see a gravitational pull to that, ’catch all waifs and strays’ entity’ - Americana. While mere words are required in this medium, once the album moves into listening territory, its own laudable attributes take over to ensure any risks on those taking a punt on a new name evaporate quickly.
The bright and breezy opener ‘Shaking’ is everything you want from a catchy tune set loose to snare its prey. Being seduced by this song is not a bad expense of your listening time and who can resist an infusion of well-crafted pop. Where you place this track is down to individual interpretation (check out the promotional video below), but a slice of 00s pop country was detected with a striking resemblance to Sara Evans’ ‘A Real Fine Place to Start’ jumping out in parts.
It may seem a little ingenuous to comment second on the sole cover among ten originals, but a version of John Moreland’s ‘Nobody Gives a Damn About Songs Anymore’ struck a major chord. Apart from being a guilt edged piece of lyrical composition, it did send a signal that we are likely to hear more of this Oklahoma singer-songwriter’s classic material in the works of others, especially as his living legacy gathers pace. The HawtThorns don’t make a stab at owning the song, but just a mere acknowledgment and celebration of a precious art form is fine.
Other songs to resonate strongly in the opening shots of this record’s life include a classy acoustic duet closer in ‘Lucky Charm’, creating the perfect bookended combination with the stand out opener. Midway through the album, ‘Give Me a Sign’ shines like a beacon and multiple plays see second track ‘Rebel Road’ advance with appreciation despite being slightly overshadowed by the opener; a recurring theme of this review.
The chances of The HawtThorns being more than a distant mark on the horizon (with a great record, mind you) are greatly enhanced by a tie up with the label Forty Below Records, which has connections in the UK and have recently led to Jamie Wyatt and Sam Morrow touring our shores. Should this occur with The HawtThorns, the queues can start now.