Tarot Cards And Shooting Stars, the second HawtThorns album by Nashville husband and wife duo KP (Kirsten Proffit) on lead vocals and acoustic and electric guitarist Johnny Hawthorn pushes their hook-driven Americana into even more radio friendly and supremely assured mainstream country pop territory, thoughts of peak career Fleetwood Mac not wide of the mark. The template’s set from the get-go with the earworm ‘All The Right Reasons’, which, despite its lyric about young love fallen apart (“I told you I would stay but I never did belong/You had all the right reasons for doing me wrong”) is an upbeat track with a catchy chorus to send you bouncing down the street. The vibe continues with the scampering ‘On The Way’ about finding where you belong and from where the album title comes before slowing it down for the upbeat (“hard days won’t last forever/Think of the high times/the ones we won’t forget”) keyboards-backed country soul ‘Let’s Get Together’ with its swayalong chorus line.
The pandemic defying optimism is also captured in the album’s sole cover, a sunny California soul take on Neil Young’s ‘Lotta Love’ that nods to the Nicolette Larson version before returning to their own material with the pedal steel kissed ballad about being forged by our experiences (“Maybe this is it, learning as we go/To become better people along this crazy road”) ‘Baby It’s A Gift’, turning the anthemic knob up to max for the confidently sung dreams never die themed ‘Keep It Alive’ with its crowd-friendly swayalong rhythm and a steady drum beat.
Stripped back to an acoustic strum, ‘One Human At A Time’ is a real standout, a song about not judging by appearances (“You wouldn’t know it by looking at me/Who I am or where I’ve been/You see my father’s father walked out/The day he was born and he saw the color of his skin”), tolerance (“I wouldn’t know it by looking at you/What you believe or your reasons why/But I’ll be damned if I’m gonna tell you/How you should feel or what you should justify”) and working for change (“So have some patience and I’ll be gracious and well get through this paradigm”), heading into the final stretch with the uptempo drive and ringing guitars and vocals of ‘This One Is Ours’, Matt Morango’s drums propelling it along KP adding her own gospel-like backing, Kaitlin Wellberg on strings and Johnny dropping in a soaring solo for a song that uses car trouble imagery as a metaphor for keeping a relationship motoring (“Now you’re trying to turn it over but the damn things getting nothing through the lines but this is so much bigger than ignition spark and getting it in drive cuz once we get her started up I know this baby’s gonna fly”).
The pace drops back and pedal steel resurfaces for the duo’s close harmonies, Johnny more to the fore, on the bittersweet ‘The One That Got Away’ (“it seems like you could use a shoulder like mine/In the booth in front of me I thought that I could make you see/That we’re just travelers and all of this means nothing in the end”). It ends on one last slow dance ballad with the soulful, bluesy acoustic and strings brushed ‘When Georgia Cries’, a number about being moved by the power and emotions of song, Johnny on resonator guitar solo, a perfect close to what seems deservedly destined to find a place among the year’s best of lists.
Artists’ website: www.thehawtthorns.com
‘All The Right Reasons’ – official video: