Hoarse and Roaring is the debut album from Utah based alt-folksters Parlor Hawk which has seen them being compared to the likes of Ryan Adams and Wilco. The music that Parlor Hawk produces does indeed contain elements of both these acts but they have an ace up their sleeve in the shape of front man Drew Capener, who is blessed with a voice that can convey emotion in a way few could ever manage. You know when you listen to this record that this is real musicians playing real instrument.
This album was actually released a year ago but only popped through our virtual letter box in the past few weeks. We don't normally review albums that have been out this long but this is no ordinary record. The intensity and passion is there from the start with album opener Home. The guitar picking of the intro is joined by Capener's breathy vocal before piano, tambourine and harmonies build into a joyous choir filled end. Like Thieves is a different beast all together with crashing guitars and drums all underpinned by the drone of the hammond. Fans of Band Of Horses will love it. The whole vibe of the album is laid back, open and windswept. If ever a record was made for cruising down endless roads stretching through backwaters as you chase the setting sun with the top down then this is it. The exquisitely beautiful Julian had me there. In my mind it was all slow motion and picket fences. I was there. I swear I was.
It is a strange record in many ways as it is incredibly commercial but perhaps not that fashionable. Tracks like Second Skin and Flowers are firmly based in alt-country but there is something about them which crosses over into the mainstream in much the same way as Damian Rice managed with O. In fact if you didn't know better you could easily believe that Lark was written and performed by Rice. The earthy acoustics mixed with plaintive vocals, eerie harmonies are something that Rice used to great effect in the past.
When 14 years strikes up comparisons with Will The Circle Be Unbroken, made famous by the Carter family, are immediate and maintains a spiritual feel through out. The album closes on Saddest Song with a strong air of melancholy in the lyrics and a stripped bare acoustic and vocal approach which is up there with Julian as stand out track. There is a lot to like about this record. Sure, its not the happiest record you'll hear but it is uplifting in other ways and personally... I love it.