Listening to “Hoarse and Roaring” is like driving alone down a long, open road off into a sunset tinged landscape, leaving plenty of time to contemplate life’s hopes and struggles. Parlor Hawk’s distinct brand of Americana folk-rock permeates the effort with a tight sound featuring steadily strummed guitars, an achingly bluesy twang and frontman Drew Capener’s desperate vibrato on every track.
The band successfully creates a contemporary take on an antique sound with a salt-of-the-earth vibe — but that’s not to say there’s anything ordinary about this music. The evenly-paced drum beats and clean harmonies are both intimate and personal in their everyman quality. The sound produced is at times melancholy but more often contemplative — simultaneously nostalgic and forward-looking. Utilizing instruments such as a pump organ and slide guitar, Parlor Hawk generates a vintage sound. The music and lyrics are unpretentious and fervent; simple yet rich and layered. Stylistic comparisons can be easily drawn to artists like Damien Rice, Ryan Adams or early Wilco.
“Home,” the album’s opener (embedded below), has a catchy chorus and sparse percussion with the duo of a bass drum and tambourine that eventually break into handclaps at the peak of the action. Capener careens in and out of the guitar riffs, channeling an old-timey, saloon feel as you envision an antique piano being played in the corner. Parlor Hawk’s country roots show through in “Every Bone,” a track laden with the twang of a steel guitar as the reluctant rhythm trudges forward with a message of love lost.
“Julian” the album’s most melancholy tune, utilizes Capener’s wounded voice well as he croons about faded love: “I’ll give you my canvas/Paint cracked and dry/Might lead you to question/But reason can’t ask reason why.” The album’s dream-like “Lark” is a swaying melody that plays like a bittersweet lullaby, with the ethereal chorus floating in the night sky as Capener’s voice intertwines with the female harmony. The more upbeat “Flowers” contains a bluesy guitar hook and a steady, toe-tapping beat, while “Saddest Song” is a melancholy campfire sing-a-long, featuring only vocals and an acoustic guitar.
All in all, “Hoarse and Roaring” is an album that you’ll want to pick up and sing along with, no matter what mood you’re in.
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