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I See Hawks in LA won’t be holding a proper release party for “New Kind of Lonely” until its Feb. 24 show at McCabe’s in Santa Monica. But local fans can get a preview of the new tunes this Friday when the Hawks return to the Coffee Gallery Backstage.
Cut live in the studio around three microphones, “New Kind of Lonely” is an acoustic project that highlights one of the trademark elements of the Hawks’ sound: the tightly woven harmonies between frontman Rob Waller, dobroist Paul Lacques and bassist Paul Marshall. As a band, they’ve long since proved they can rock the house, particularly during more anthemic numbers like “Humboldt,” a staple of their club sets. But their acoustic shows have generally fostered an intimacy that audiences have also relished, and those fans are likely to respond warmly to the new recording. The open space in the acoustic settings directs more attention to the richly poetic, thoughtful lyrics, which balance humor with a pervasive sense of mortality and loss.
“Bohemian Highway” opens the album on a rather contemplative note, gratefully recalling old friends and roads traveled together while suggesting they’ve all disappeared. The loving “Big Old Hypodermic Needle” bids farewell to two friends who succumbed to overwhelming demons. One of the most affecting tracks is the bittersweet “The Spirit of Death,” which contemplates time’s inexorable march and mourns late fiddler and singer-songwriter Amy Farris before giving way to a spirited fiddle solo by Gabe Witcher.
“When I was a younger man, the good times eased the way
But now the stars are falling every other day
The dreams of childhood are returning to say
Your dance is coming, better pick a tune and play…”
Elsewhere, “Highland Park Serenade” wistfully name checks Figueroa, Mr. T’s Bowl and other local sites while assessing changes wrought by gentrification and time. “I Fell in Love With the Grateful Dead” looks back to youthful discoveries with a laugh over sparkling guitar leads. The album wraps with the lovely “If You Lead I Will Follow,” a fittingly melancholy close to an album that holds up loved ones and cherished ways, even if they’ve gone out of fashion. In a culture that’s ever more fragmented, the Hawks continue to show unsentimental respect for what they believe holds lasting value: land (not real estate) and the environment, music (not the music industry) and bonds of community forged through mutual care. n
I See Hawks in LA performs at the Coffee Gallery Backstage,
2029 N. Lake Ave., Altadena, 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3; $15. Info/reservations: (626) 798-6236.
Karen Tobin and Paul Marshall open. iseehawks.com,