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Gram Parsons has been dead for roughly 35 years, and yet he can still be heard all over Hallowed Ground, the latest Big Book Records release from I See Hawks In L.A. Hallowed Ground is precisely the “Cosmic American Music” Parsons would have loved. The band effortlessly blends the three-part harmonies, fiddles and weeping steel of country/roots music with the driving drums, heavy reverb and fiery licks we associate with more rock-oriented offerings. Flavor the whole mess with zydeco, Tex-Mex and even some Celtic flourishes and you’ll get an idea of how much ground Hallowed Ground covers. On this outing, the Los Angeles-based quartet is further reinforced with a handful of hired guns, including guitarist Rick Shea (Dave Alvin) and pedal steel whiz Dave Zirbel (Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen) whose licks are sure to stir memories of the late Sneaky Pete Kleinow.

Suffice to say, these boys can all play like the devil, but what really sets I See Hawks In L.A. apart from the others who play in the same sandbox is their willingness to deal with themes that fall decidedly outside of country music’s traditional comfort zone. Instead of predictable ditties about dead end jobs and no good women, Hallowed Ground offers songs that dabble in ecology, metaphysics, time travel and for the romantics in the audience, a lovers’ stroll that ends in a suicide pact. My favorite has to be Ever Since The Grid Went Down, a wry, picture-postcard of life in post-Apocalyptic California that just might become a survivalist anthem if/when this country finally goes to hell in a bobsled.

Very highly recommended for fans of the The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Byrds, and the aforementioned Dave Alvin. Absolutely essential if you refused, on principle, to buy Long Road Out Of Eden retail simply because it was sold exclusively at Walmart and Sam’s Club.

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