The Hale & Hearty
(Hong Kong Stingray)
The Hale & Hearty spreads Howkins’s buttery-smooth voice across the entire album, yet each track holds its own alternative influences. The lead vocalist’s vanilla sound is spiced with the twelve additional musicians and odd instruments, such as the vox organ, the glock, and the tenor trombone.The occasional quirky note or electronic riff keeps listeners pleasantly surprised.
The title track, “Hale and Hearty” opens with a beckoning bed of strings, and quickly establishes a catchy beat. “Sugar Sand Stitched Lip” explores a range of acoustic strums before Howkins’s voice makes an entrance without intruding. His effortless vocal bends are smooth and honest. And, like a mouthful of flavors, “The Raucous Calls of Morning” is a continuous surprise, featuring the very lowest keys of a piano, a fluid violin, a woman’s vocals, a few drum solos, and a peppering of single xylophone notes. His poetic lyrics are phenomenal. Howkins shows much affection for Philadelphia, his hometown, when he sings, “My city’s cold and naked / Who’ll wrap an arm around it?”
Heyward Howkins encompasses flavors of Damien Rice and Bon Iver, but keeps listeners guessing with his surprising arrangements in an album you will quickly fall in love with.
– Jade Bonacolta