Inauspiciously, this eccentric Californian band chose to release their eponymous debut album on September 11, 2001. Perhaps, with hindsight, this may have given them some insights into how to deal with personal trauma.
If so, this would have stood them in good stead over the past five years, a period in which the two main song writers have suffered the loss of their nearest and dearest. In March of 2015, Rob Waller's mother succumbed to pancreatic cancer and Paul Lacques recently lost both his parents.
Their method of coping is not to write despairing songs but to seek gallows humor in grim situations. In recognition that there are two sides to every story, Poour Me (the title is not a typo) juxtaposes a drunk’s self-pity ('Poor me') with his compulsion to seek out the hair of the dog ("Pour me more wine") .
The "weary sad soul surrender" in The Isolation Mountains would have been treated as an excuse for Gothic nihilism by The Handsome Family but the 'Hawks' adopt a more pragmatic tone towards regret. Fine fiddle playing on this and on Tearing Me In Twofrom long-time collaborator Dave Markowitz adds to the pathos without prolonging the pain.
In looking beyond individual hardships, environmental concerns are reflected in two songs: Ballad For The Trees and Planet Earth.
Climate change and the consequent absence of rain is one of the main causes of the now annual fires in Southern California hills. These are the backdrop to the drama of The Last Man In Tujunga in which the story of a break up unfolds over a cell phone call as the flames get closer.
Overall, the band's good-natured take on all things Americana combines doo-wop, boogie rock, ’50s R'nB, pop and alt.country. In this context, the album title seems unnecessarily harsh since the songs advocate the notion that humor and wisdom can help in dealing with adversity in all its shapes and forms.
I See Hawks In L.A.'s website