Heyward Howkins: The Hale and Hearty

Heyward Howkins, The Hale and HeartyHeyward Howkins: The Hale and Hearty
Heyward Howkins is an intriguing case study in modern music. Formerly the guitarist for Philadelphia-based band The Trouble, Howkins has created a bend of folk and pop with a little bit of jazz added for good measure. While his debut album, The Hale and Hearty, may be interesting and fresh, that does not necessarily guarantee success. Although the album combines a variety of sounds, Howkins manages to present tracks that have a somewhat limited appeal. The debut effort by Heyward Howkins is the definition of “love it or hate it.”
The album inexplicably begins where it seems it should end. The opening track “Thunderin’ Stomp” is quite the opposite of what the name suggests, instead of a raucous bluesy jam, listeners are greeted by a sleepy acoustic ballad which feels out of place as the album’s opener. The next track delivers on the unfulfilled promises of the opener, as “The Hale and Hearty” is a bluesy folk piece with a redemptive feel. The positive is then followed by a negative, as the next track “Spanish Moss” has an odd sound which seems to lack any real purpose and seems to be little more than a throw away track. The middle of the album does not drag, but in fact has frequent changes of pace to keep the listener interested. The track “Flash Mob” shows what Howkins is capable of, if only it were applied to the rest of the album. The song, driven by blues-infused riffs and a shuffling rock beat, will likely remind listeners of a night out on the town, mixing elegance with youthful fun. In yet another change of pace, listeners are greeted by a slow, foreboding lullaby of a track, titled “TheLiveOak.” The album concludes with three more songs which follow Howkins’ style of emotional folk at moderate speeds, hardly straying from what he knows best.
While I admittedly have a place in my heart for anything that can be labeled as ‘folk,’ having been a long dedicated fan of bands such as Dawes and Deer Tick (but maybe that’s just the Rhode Islander in me), this album is certainly not for everyone. The biggest challenge Howkins will face is winning over fans outside of a very specific sect. At times, even fans of the genres he explores and presents will grow weary of his sound, but for now, his debut effort can be considered a valiant one, faltering at times, overpowering the weak with the strong.
Rating: 7.5/10
MP3: Heyward Howkins “Plume and Orange”
Buy: iTunes