By KATE LADDISH
The last time I See Hawks In LA played The Palms Playhouse, they headlined the venue’s grand re-opening in 2017. When the country rock quartet returns to The Palms on Thursday, June 7, they’ll be the ones celebrating a launch.
Poised to release their eighth album, “Live and Never Learn,” this month, the Hawks will bring new songs and crowd favorites. Rick Shea, of Dave Alvin & The Guilty Men, will open the 8 p.m. show.
With soulful three-part vocals, evocative songs and arrangements that soar, groove and occasionally growl, the Hawks’ sound is where rock, country, psychedelic and folk overlap. It is the music of literate songsmiths at home in urban open spaces and desert honky-tonks.
Rob Waller’s lead vocals have an undercurrent of wistful yearning, giving additional heart to the lyrics. Paul Lacques’ and Paul Marshall’s well-blended harmonies add vocal punch.
The Hawks’ instrumentation supports the vocals. Lacques’ lead electric, acoustic and steel guitar lines are as explosive or delicate as needed, with Waller’s rhythm acoustic as counterpoint. Marshall’s bass lines embroider the songs, providing understated complexity. Drummer Victoria Jacobs, who joined the band full-time several years ago, can rock propulsively or play with a smooth country cadence.
“Live and Never Learn” is the band’s first release since 2013.
“Somehow five years had gone by in a flash and we were ready,” said Waller.
“I also particularly wanted to capture the sound of the Hawks with Victoria behind the drums. We’ve definitely evolved over these last few years and had something new to say both musically and lyrically.”
“The spirit moved us last year,” said Lacques, “and we came up with quite a few songs. And we worked up a couple of oldies, like ‘Last Man In Tujunga,’ and finally got good versions.”
It’s been a rough few years personally for the Hawks, with principle songwriters Waller and Lacques losing parents.
“I think those kinds of primary loses really cause for a major shift in perspective,” reflected Waller. “A generational shift.”
According to Lacques, the material on the new album “isn’t so much about specific losses or crises, but is certainly informed by it. Many of the songs are about acceptance, or dualism – life throws you impossible choices, and you choose.”
In addition to a few choice musings on mortality, the album has waltzes, shuffles, rave-ups and romps about topics as varied as drifters, trees and mountains, and getting dumped via cell phone during a wildfire.
Singer, songwriter and guitarist Rick Shea, who will open the show, has history with both the Hawks and The Palms. Shea’s previous appearances at the club include solo shows, concerts with Dave Alvin and with Mary McCaslin, as well as with the Hawks the first time they appeared at The Palms back in 2005.
Shea is “one of the fifth Hawks,” said Lacques, “and we get him up on stage whenever we can.”
Shea has released 10 albums, the most recent of which is 2017’s “The Town Where I Live.”
Tickets, $22, are available at Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Armadillo Music in Davis, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland, online via The Palms’ website and Eventbrite and at the door if not sold out.
For more information, visit palmsplayhouse.com, iseehawks.com and rickshea.com.