Now Playing: Heyward HowkinsAugust 29, 2012
Songs, by most popular definitions, need music, and they need lyrics, right? And those are more often than not, two entirely separate entities thrown together with the vocals taking precedence over the music. But, what if someone just married the two? Using vocals to portray subtle emotional vibes and using instruments to tell a story – one as much as the other.
There are probably a few good artists who do this, but I hadn’t heard a good vocal-music marriage like that for a long time until I heard Heyward Howkins’ new album, The Hale & Hearty.
Like a patchwork suit, it’s equal parts British tweed (see Nick Drake, John Cale, The Smiths) and dusty American flannel (see Bon Iver, M. Ward, Damien Jurado). Heyward has crafted an album with diverse sounds and surprising arrangements that compliment, but never overwhelm, his evocative melodies and lyrics.
The Hale & Hearty is a really subtle piece of work. If you’re looking for something to bob your head to repeatedly, this probably isn’t it. But if you’re looking for something to softly pluck at the strings of thought in your mind, and stay with you after you’ve turned down the sound, you’re at the right spot.
Among the highlights of the album are the mellow, swaying rhythm of the title track, “Hudson Piers”, because it paints a New York picture and naturally that’s my favourite thing in the world, and the ethereal vibe of “Spanish Moss”. Listen to it here:
Heyward Howkins – Spanish Moss
The overall feeling of The Hale & Hearty is a weird sort of searching peacefulness, that’s quite lovely, but makes you want to get out and journey at the same time. It’s a feeling summed up pretty well by this video:
Heyward Howkins – Sugar Sand Stitched Lip