California’s I See Hawks In L.A. and Liverpool’s Good Intentions met and became friends at a house concert in California back in 2012. Since then, the bands have shared stages in the States and here in the UK and along the way they began writing some songs together, the first fruits of their joint effort displayed on the Hawks’ last album, ‘Live And Never Learn‘, which had two songs co-written with Peter Davies of Good Intentions. Bouncing emails and mp3 files across the Atlantic they eventually came up with the ten songs on display here, sections recorded in L.A. and Liverpool with each of the bands’ contributions stitched together so well that the join is never seen. As it says on the sleeve, “Gleaming technology serving acoustic guitars and down home harmonies.”
It’s primarily an acoustic album with drums on only one song and some spare lap and slide guitar from Paul Lacques present. Lead vocals are shared between Davies and the Hawks’ Rob Waller and Victoria Jacobs while the other member of Good Intentions, Gabrielle Monk, weighs in on backing vocals. As such, it’s a collection which is finely laidback as various guitars strum and harmonies float reminding one of the “wooden music” side of CSN&Y or the more blissed out moments of the good ole’ Grateful Dead along with a sprinkling of acts such as The Ozark Mountain Daredevils and Loggins & Messina. Writing in various permutations with Waller, Lacques and Jacobs, Davies has a hand in all but one song and it’s his voice which opens the album on ‘Blue Heaven‘, a sun dappled slice of nostalgia laden with harmonies and sly Dobro, the kind of song which could accompany faded home movies of flower children celebrating. Waller takes the reins for the following western themed ‘Things Like This‘, a taut Larry McMurtry like murder tale which skittles along like tumbleweed before Weller and Davies swap their contrasting lead vocals on ‘Rolling The Boxcars‘, a gambling song with the protagonists always on the losing end with the song delivered as if all were singing around a late night campfire.
Plenty to admire then in this opening triumvirate which showcases the strengths of both ends of this collaboration. But there’s much more to come as the combo accommodate the folkier side of Davies on the Tom Paxton like ‘Rambling Girl‘ (with The Punch Brothers’ Gabe Whitcher on fiddle) and then allow Waller to deliver the excellent railroad chug of ‘Steel Rails‘. ‘White Cross‘, one of the songs which appeared on ‘Live And Never Learn‘, remains as sinewy as the original while ‘Flying Now‘ finds Davies down on his luck but ever hopeful on a song which recalls the late Ronnie Lane especially with its accordion accompaniment from Richie Lawrence. ‘Epiphany On Town Hall Square‘, while fitting well into its surroundings in terms of its delivery, is somewhat odd, bearing as it does, echoes of a Christmas carol in its setting but the closing ‘Will You Watch Over Me‘, the one song written solely by Lacques and Waller, is bang in the Hawks canon as it gently rolls along with rippling guitar accompaniment invoking a greater spirit.
Collaborations can often be tricky affairs but it feels safe to say that on this occasion fans of either band will be satisfied by ‘Hawks With Good Intentions’. It simply radiates good vibes as these transatlantic cousins find common cause.
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