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Hawks main vocalist and co-writer Rob Waller has been known to say country never died, it just changed names. But the California country rock of this band, one of the finest on the scene, takes some by ways down back roads from L.A. to Bakersfield clear up to Marin County, making them heirs in my book not just of the Byrds and Burritos but Workingman’s-era Dead and New Riders. This group of songs doesn’t quite reach the heights of the best of Grapevine to me, but is more consistent and fully realized. The opener “Motorcycle Mama” is not the Neil Young song, but makes reference to it the final chorus. Slices of life songwriting laced with passion and humor (try “Slash from Guns N’ Roses”) and the by now required ode to cannabis (“Barrier Reef”) show the band to be at a peak, musically that is. Pedal and lap steel, psychedelic guitar solos and the excellent fiddling of Brantley Kearns (the fifth Hawk?) flesh out the solidly written tunes, making this a must have disc. And check out their website for note worthy blog reports from a down to earth band on the move.

four and a half stars
Reviewed by Michael Meehan