I See Hawks In L.A. may be an odd name for a band, but it is one of the best alternative country bands, in concert and on stage, working today. The name actually comes from a diffident gesture: “If you see hawks, then maybe we should talk.”
The band was formed in 1999 by Bob Waller, plus Paul and Anthony Lacques. When this album was recorded, the core members consisted of guitarist/lead vocalist Waller, guitarist/dobro player Paul Lacques, and bassist Paul Marshall. They are supported by fiddle player Gabe Witcher, banjo player Cliff Wagner, drummer Dave Raven, and accordion player Richie Lawrence.
The group has released five albums of what can be best defined as psychedelic/electric alternative country music. The guitars were the prominent instrument, with a thumping rhythm section in support.
Their sixth album, A New Kind Of Lonely, travels in a very different direction. The band’s acoustic sets have always been well-received, so now it has recorded just about an all-acoustic album, with only a dash of electric bass. The acoustic guitar sound of Waller and Lacques is now more subtle, as the fiddles, banjos, stand-up bass, and accordion take the overall sound in a more traditional country direction. What remains intact are their incisive lyrics, which deal with the environment, death, loss, and scathing social commentary. Also still present are the exquisite three-part harmonies which add a shimmering glow to their sound.
Many times their music belies their lyrics, and visa versa. “Big Old Hypodermic Needle” tells the story of two friends overdosing on drugs hidden in upbeat music that is fit for the dance hall. Some bluegrass banjo and fiddling drive “Hunger Mountain Breakdown,” with lyrics about suicide.
The group travels south to the American Delta region for a Cajun work-out on the rocking “The Spirit Of Death,” and “I Fell In Love With The Grateful Dead” was their tribute to the Dead with this jam-like track.
I See Hawks In L.A. has proven that it has been one of the better alternative country bands in the business during the past decade. New Kind Of Lonely further proves that the band is not afraid to take chances and strike out on different musical pathways. It has issued a well-recorded album of harmonic textures and haunting themes that is well worth a listen.