Formed just last year and comprising singer/guitarist/writer Louisa Gaylard and Jesse Benns on soundbox hand percussion with Gordy Patridge stepping in on bass and vocals as the occasion arises, the Cheltenham-based trio The Hawthornes (they share their name with an area of the town) declare themselves to specialise in ‘beat driven acoustic and folk music’ and to be ‘band intruding on the British Folk scene from a completely new angle.’
Having recently caught them, in duo form, supporting a triumphant sell-out Birmingham gig by the reformed Terry & Gerry, I have to say it’s a very welcome intrusion even if I’m not sure the angle’s quite that new.
They’ve just released this very DIY debut EP, a collection of four songs variously themed around relationships, insecurity and being mixed up (three of which all involve wanting to go to sleep and wake up to something better) that reveal Louisa to have a voice and swallowed word endings delivery somewhere between Lucy Spraggan and Lily Allen, energetically strumming guitar while Benns lays down the rhythm.
Sparsely self-produced, the tracks display different musical sides. Where Are We All Going? (which opens with a sample from Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein) with its stuck in a rut lyrics echoes T&G’s skiffle pop, but with a country zing to the catchy chorus, the drunken regrets of Rainy Day (“perspective has a way of creeping up on you”) is jaunty busker pop in the manner of early Frank Turner and Billy Bragg while the co-penned Saturday has a jazzy blues shoulder-shrugging bounce and, clocking in at just over four minutes, Shacklehead’s incipient nervous breakdown has more of a traditional folk shanty waltzing feel with a flamenco flourish to the guitar work.
Clearly it’s early days yet and they’re still exploring who they are (the live set features a fine cover of Ben Kweller’s Guthrie-esque Fight), but with a bunch of other solid material in the wings (Edgar and the as yet unrecorded Drama Queen are particularly good) and increasing live work honing their craft and spreading their name, their Facebook boast about being “the band carrying British Folk into the next generation” may well prove prescient.
Review by: Mike Davies