Heyward Howkins' The Hale & Hearty

 In the era of Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen, it is questionable that there are musicians still out there that produce unique music. Fortunately, indie artist Heyward Howkins has produced an album full of individuality and raw talent that all music fans could appreciate. You can check it out here.

            Starting off with “Thunderin’ Stop,” it is obvious that this album is laid back. The relaxing, dreamy instrumentals blend well with Howkins’ slight twang. This track could easily be a lullaby with its continuous, gentle acoustic instrumentals. The album carries on with “Hale & Hearty.” The enthusiastic vocals continue on with a relaxing attitude. Electric guitar and brass are definitely highlights in this track.

            Lyrically, “Spanish Moss” is very strong. The instrumentals are not as impressive on this track, but it still flows well. The song seems to abruptly end, though. With a nearly psychedelic intro, “Sugar Sand Stitched Lip” quickly turns into a mesmerizing song filled with soul. This could easily fit in at an Urban Outfitters store by the way it gives off a calming consciousness. Once again, the track seems to abruptly end.

            In the fifth track, “Waist High or Dry,” the vocals immediately start off strong. As the song progresses, it picks up from a dream-like beat to a head-nodding pace. The musical contrast is fantastic in this track. The deep vocals and use of a wide variety of percussion establishes the next track, “The Raucous Calls of Morning,” as a truly impressive song. It slightly resembles tunes by Modest Mouse. In “Flash Mob,” the vocals are especially appealing. This track screams ‘unique’ because of its lively instrumentals paired with honest vocals. You do not often hear this type of feel-good, raw talent anymore.

            The talented Howkins continues on with “TheLiveOak.” This track relates back to the earlier songs on this album with the common theme of gentle instrumentals. The tender vocals can put you into a dream-like state. Continuing on with the gentle instrumentals, “Plume and Orange” establishes a great transition from the previous “TheLiveOak.” The vocals remain strong and clear, and the careful percussion adds a rock attitude to the song. Howkins proves in this track that he has perfected a pleasant balance of tame instrumentals and alluring vocals.

             The intro of “Cocaine Bill” slightly resembles something alt-rock band Phoenix would play. Interestingly enough, it develops into something completely different. Upbeat percussion and Howkins’ slight twang morph this song into a beautiful, folk-infused track. The Hale & Hearty wraps up with “Hudson Piers.” The enchanting guitar can instantly relax anyone listening to this song. The harmonizing is impressive, but takes away from the beauty of the song. Brass is a reoccurring instrument throughout the album, and matches well with this final track.

Favorite Tracks: Waist High or Dry, Flash Mob, Hale & Hearty

Overall Rating: 4/5