The HawtThorns Stay Soulful and Positive on ‘Tarot Cards and Shooting Stars’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Photo credit: Michael Becker

The HawtThorns is an Americana rock duo comprised of husband and wife Johnny and KP Hawthorn. The fact that they make music together seems like it was meant to be. Both had released solo material before they met and had plenty of experience behind them. On their first date, they played songs together, and in 2019, they released their debut Morning Sun. That album showed how adept this duo is at making melodic Americana.

The HawtThorns started in Los Angeles, but have since moved to Nashville. While the band’s sound has always been rooted in California country sounds, the move to Nashville seems to have introduced more of a southern sound and feel to the mix. That southern influence comes through on their new album Tarot Cards and Shooting Stars, whether it’s in the twang of the guitar or the gospel feel of the backing vocals in some of these songs.

“On the Way” features the sort of twangy guitar sound that has filled little midwestern bars forever.

Between the soulful and positive sound, “Let’s Get Together” is one of those songs that seems like sunshine in musical form. The guitar and the backing vocals bring a soulful sound similar to Trigger Hippy. The chorus is likely to have you singing along, “Let’s get together. Hard days won’t last forever. Thinking of high times, the ones we won’t forget.” If you find yourself in an unpleasant mood, this song just might be the prescription you need.

That positive energy runs throughout the album. Over a twangy and spacey melody, KP Hawthorn sings about how the struggles of life (being late on the taxes, maxed credit) can bring a person down. But ultimately that struggle is a gift. The light and hope is in the lyrics, “We might as well make it a party. Still got a heartbeat, give it a jumpstart.” It’s a sound philosophy that we could all use after the last couple years.

This album has some things in common with a Tom Petty album. First and foremost is the songwriting craft displayed by these songs. The melodies are rich and layered and have a way of getting and staying in your head. In addition, the lyrics are relatable and paint vivid pictures of real-life people with real-life problems. Finally, like many Tom Petty albums, this one is perfect for a night drive, particularly if you have to be driving along a coast. It is a soundtrack for freedom, movement, and hope, and it is perfect for opening the windows and singing as loudly as you can. Tarot Cards and Shooting Stars by The HawtThorns makes you wish you could write songs half as good as the ones on this album. It is just one beautiful and melodic song after another (including a cover of “Lotta Love” by Nicolette Larson). In addition to being full of rich melodies, this album also carries a message of hope that we can all desperately use.

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