Looking through the old Dudeletter mailbag, I found we were sent a beautiful album by Heyward Howkins called Hale and Hearty. This was a wonderful gift to uncover to mellow out after a long day and an album definitely worth listening to.
Heyward Howkins has an interesting musical past, playing guitar for The Trouble With Sweeney; an opening act for My Morning Jacket and OK GO. While there, he recorded three albums including Fishtown Briefcase an amazing album in its own right. Since then, he became a founding of The Silver Ages, a choral group from Philadelphia including David Hartley (Nightlands, The War on Drugs, Buried Beds, BC Camplight), Charlie Hall (Jens Lekman, The War on Drugs, The Lindsey Buckingham Appreciation Society), Gianmarco Cilli (National Eye), Shai Halperin (The Capitol Years, Sweet Lights), Todd Starlin (Like Moving Insects), Brandon Beaver (Buried Beds, Nightlands), Brian Christinzio (BC Camplight), Rick Flom (National Eye, Mitch Fiction), Dave Wayne Daniels (The Capitol Years), Josh Newman (Mitch Fiction), Zach Miller (Dr. Dog) and Dan Matz (Windsor for the Derby, Birdwatcher).
In his solo album, the Hale & Hearty, he really shines. The album is pure mellow bliss. The album flows with melodic guitar that is very simple in nature, but the simplicity of this music adds to the depth of the sound. The sound is reminiscent of Bon Iver; immaculate, almost haunting. The voice plays so perfectly off of this; with notes between Ben Harper or Jack Johnson, the vocals play off of the guitar in perfect folk fashion. Lyrics bounce and play through the songs in a very playful and poetic way. In a classic folk way, the voice trembles and fluctuates delicately and swells to crescendos, heard clearly in Thunderin’ Stop, the opening track.
The album over all is very strong and engrossing. Starting off strong, with Thunderin’ Stop, the title track, Hale and Hearty (as sampled below), and Spanish Moss, the album flows between impressive and high quality standard folk. The album is very delicate with effects, such as the reverb in a few tracks, the occasional instruments, and incidental vocals. The quintessential track on this, is appropriately, the title track. The dainty cymbals and brass, the bouncy lyrics and background vocals, and the simple happiness of the song provide a perfect sample of this amazing album. With hardly any flaws, the album is impeccable and worth a listen.