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Since their eponymous debut a little over a decade ago, Cali-country revivalists I See Hawks released four more albums before this latest mosey into the sagebrush. Indeed, ISHILA records continue to provide a reliable index to the Southern California zeitgeist, as this fifth collection is more joyful than the high lonesome hallucinogens that dropped during the angst-ridden Noughties. SoCal, like most everywhere else in the USA, is now merely broke; and that bust-ass frame-of-mind, as anyone can tell you, makes for great country music. Indeed, “The Spirit of Death” flaunts joyfully at encroaching mortality, and a similar spirit of auto-cutthroat balladry can’t help but inform “Your Love is Going to Kill Me.” “I Fell in Love With the Grateful Dead” is a rework of “Raised by Hippies” off 2006’s California Country, but “Highland Park Serenade” is one of their most affecting tunes ever—a tender and dearly felt tribute to one more gently crumbling jewel box neighborhood. This town fairly brims with high-lonesome ghosts, and it’s good to have these fellows back to set them howling.

—Ron Garmon