THE HAWTHORNES – Cut & Run (own label)

Cut & RunThe second album from Cheltenham folk outfit The Hawthornes, Cut & Run, sees them with an expanded line-up, Sussex-born singer Louisa Gaylard, bassist Gordy Partridge and Jesse Benns on cajon, mandolin and soundbox percussionist now joined by Gregg Wilson-Copp, formerly of The Roving Crows, on trumpet. The change in their sound is evident from the outset, a burst of Andalucian-sounding brass launching the flurrying ‘Patience’, reappearing for another salvo towards the end. The track is typical of the urgency with which the band invest their music and Garland’s vocals, and even though ‘Turn Your Back’ starts off relatively restrained with its strummed acoustic, it’s less than a minute before scampering percussion appears, followed by trumpet and the chorus picks up the tempo. That said, ‘Little Games’, ‘Let’s Go’ with its fingerpicked guitar and raindrops of hollow echoey percussion and moody album closer ‘Vernon Place’ throw more ballad-shaped melodies, at least until the latter sees Wilson-Copp breaking out in a tarantella-like whirlwind.

Despite the end of relationship lyrics, they’re in ebullient musical mood for ‘Last Song’, trumpet again boosting the summery sparkle while, built on a simple strummed guitar, ‘Ball of Stress’ is a particularly catchy number with Garland, swooping over the notes, in softer vocal form, suggesting a folksy Lily Allen.

Elsewhere there’s the galloping gaucho rhythms and brass of ‘Happier State’, the nimble fingerpicked ‘Solidarity’ with Gaylard enthusiastically tumbling over the lyrics and ‘Sirius’, a “making our own way home” life on tarmac number that suggests a healthy future as an anthemic set closer. The title is an informal phrase for making a hasty departure when things aren’t going well. Something they won’t be doing any time soon.

Mike Davies

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‘Little Games’ – live: