Album Review: Hawktail, ‘Place of Growth’

Like a fresh spring breeze, Brittany Haas’s fiddle wafts through “Wanderings: Begin,” the opening number on Hawktail’s new song cycle, Place of Growth (out August 12 on Padiddle Records). The disc invites us on the group’s wanderings, as they ponder the individual, communal, and natural spaces in which we grow. Every tune either courses or meanders through the natural world, capturing its sometimes-frenetic pace and its slower, quieter moments.

Haas’s skittering fiddle opens the jaunty “Antilopen,” with a hoedown feel. The tune scampers along like its title animals, then slows with a ponderous movement, as if the animals have darted off.

“Wanderings: Look” provides an interlude after “Antilopen.” Its stateliness encourages us to look around and notice the beauty of the world in which we find ourselves—to attend to it. It’s followed by Jordan Tice’s cascading guitar riffs, woven around Paul Kowert’s bass in the opening measures of “Updraft.” Their interplay mimics the slow pace of a bird riding the wind. Dominick Leslie’s mandolin kicks the tune into high gear as the bird ascends higher, and Hass’ fiddle echoes the playfulness of soaring on a draft.

Kowert’s haunting bass lines drive the next interlude, “Wanderings: Where?” It seems to ask: where are we going? Can we find our place in the natural world?

The somber “Pomegranate in an Oak Tree,” which opens with a dialogue between bass and guitar, waltzes meditatively across the landscape. Celtic-tinged “Shallows” tenderly probes the first moments of a relationship, evoking the halting steps we take as if entering a shallow body of water.

The recording closes with the cinematic and spacious “Big Sun,” a joyous sonata on which each instrument shines brightly.

Place of Growth is a beautiful, intimate album. Each musician plays between the spaces the others provide, to anticipate the next measure and to improvise against one another’s playing. Like the sounds of a forest or the symphony of the sea, Hawktail’s music has an organic quality—the sounds grow together in perfect harmony.


Place of Growth is available HERE.


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