Hale & Hearty from the indie folk group Heyward Howkins is the debut LP for the band. Their origins lie in Philadelphia where the vocalist was inspired by life in and around the city. “Thunderin’ Stop,” song number one, sets the tone for this 11-track record, a song that is filled with jumpy guitars and high-pitched vocals that draw comparisons with those of Bon Iver. Old-school influences from blues to folk are prominent throughout the extent of this album. The musicians of Heyward Howkins put their own spin on these styles and bring them into the present with a multitude of layers built into each song.

On “Spanish Moss,” the third track, the singer seems to plead for the welfare and preservation of his native city. He vividly describes the many plights that afflict urban Philadelphia and his inevitable urge to save it. The longing you feel within this singer’s voice sparks a desire that almost makes you want to take part in his mission. Seeming to tell the story of summer romance with a depressing twist, “Sugar Sand Stitched Lip” is one of the better pieces by Heyward Howkins. The group does what they do best by provoking the listener into a lovesick sulk and personifying the loneliest of emotions.

“The Raucous Calls Of Morning” is a perfect example of the full-bodied, layered songs that this group can do so well. Female backing vocals and a piano accompanying the melody makes for an intense track, which essentially becomes the anthem behind the whole record. The eighth song, “Flash Mob” is a fast-paced number that crosses over and becomes a favorable indie pop jam. Accented by horns, “Hudson Pier” is an all-around intriguing song, telling the story of a pier from previous times. This track makes you feel inexplicably sad while listening and is a great way for the record to bow out.

In A Word: Smoldering

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