Stuck in pandemic land, I See Hawks In L.A. essentially underwent a crash course in remote recording for their latest album, On Our Way. As the band say, they “began the studio game. ProTools, trial by error, error in abundance…Can we use an iPhone recording?” Well, it’s graduation day today as they unveil the album and we can safely say that, were we marking it, it would get an A+.
On Our Way maintains the high standard set on previous releases by these wayward California hippies with their signature notes of high tide lines left behind by the likes of The Dead remaining intact. There is cosmic country, as on the pedal steel infused Geronimo, laid back musings on Stealing (which recalls classic Laurel Canyon days) and even some grungy junkyard ramblings on Mississippi Gas Station Blues which sounds like a mash up of Los Lobos and The Doors.
They set their stall out quite firmly on the flighty country rock of the opening song, Might have Been Me, which ripples along quite excellently and which is followed by the title track which has a slight touch of The Byrds to it in its chime. There’s a lengthy and somewhat freaky fiddle intro to Know Just What To Do which eventually subsides as the song sweetly flows into a fireside like homily. Warm and comforting for sure, but that fiddle buzz eventually returns as the song wavers between comfort and sonic malevolence. It’s as if John Cale had happened upon a David Crosby recording session. This sense of adventure is highlighted on the closing number, How You Gonna Know, an elongated eight minute trip dominated by intricate drum patterns accompanied with antipodean interruptions which eventually erupts into a tribal whelp.
Much more straightforward is the impressive Kentucky Jesus, a song which celebrates Muhammed Ali’s anti draft stance, and drummer Victoria Jacobs offers us the paisley patterned psychedelia of Kensington Market, revisiting territory she explored on the Hawks last album. If it’s Americana then there has to be a travelogue song and the band deliver another excellent slice of cosmic country rock on If I Move which swoops along quite excellently name checking fast food joints chock-full of memories of a lost love, the narrator lost in an endless highway, fuelled by despair. Quite wonderful.