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Hawktail Releases Sophomore Album FORMATIONS

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Hawktail Releases Sophomore Album FORMATIONS

Known collectively as Hawktail, fiddler Brittany Haas, bassist Paul Kowert, guitarist Jordan Tice, and mandolinist Dominick Leslie are proud to share their much-anticipated sophomore album, Formations today. With the help of co-producer Chris "Critter" Eldridge, the band recorded the album in just four days at Nashville's Southern Ground Studios. The album has received high praise from critics, including NPR Music who complimented the band's "rustic" sound on All Songs Considered's "New Music Friday" this morning. No Depression commented, "As new album Formations proves, the band members defy expectations based on other projects or instruments of choice by constantly pushing each other's creative boundaries," while Folk Alley praised the band's unprecedented musicianship, noting, "We simply haven't seen these instruments played this way and with this exuberance... except by Hawktail." The group will begin touring this month at Folk Alliance in New Orleans, followed by two Nashville performances including an album release show at Little Harpeth Brewing and a special performance at the Grand Ole Opry on February 1. Formations is available today, click here to purchase or stream.

Building on their 2018 debut Unless, Hawktail partnered up with Eldridge, veteran engineer Dave Sinko (Edgar Meyer, Béla Fleck, Sam Bush) and legendary mixing guru Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Kings of Leon, Shania Twain) to create a cohesive vision for Formations; a bigger picture shared by the entire band and production team that combined the group's monstrous compositional and instrumental forces. "Unless took care of the learning curve," Tice explained in a December interview with Billboard, "and having done that we were like, 'Oh, we know how to make music together now. Let's make another record.'"

Playful and dramatic, Formations has more conversational trades, improvisation, and sonic shifts than their debut; this new energy is largely due to Leslie's presence from the inception of the record. "Our first album had more or less been written by the time I joined the band, so it was more about finding a complementary part," says Leslie. "On Formations, I was there for the writing, which resulted in the mandolin having a fundamental role in the music."

Formations is a collection of seven instrumentals that tell dynamic stories, with elemental components that challenge the category that their instrumentation suggests. "With four people, new roles appear that weren't there before. You can have two be 'the backing band,' one 'the soloist,' and one 'the commentator,' for instance. The music begins to tell a vivid story," Tice explains. This is apparent in the album's first single "Annbjørg," a dizzying, Scandinavian-tinged choose-your-own-adventure tune that Kowert described to Folk Alley as "a polyrhythmic romp inspired by one of our heroes of fiddling, Annbjørg Lien." Other examples include the noir minor bluegrass number "Last One on the Line" and "Eddie's Attic". "On 'Eddie's Attic' we combine people on the same part in different ways. Unison, octave, together or staggered. Each instrument is like a character, and as they enter and exit, the scenes change," says Haas, "It's simple stuff, but it really makes an impact when it's clear." 

However, on the album's second single and most reflective number, "Dandelion", the band returns to the chamber music-inspired orchestration of Unless, which NPR Music characterized as "devotional and worthy of deep attention." With no definitive melody, the track takes a journey through consonance, dissonance, fragility, and robust strength, using simple, familiar sounds in unusual ways. The dreamlike result is hard to define yet familiar; archetypical and clear in its intent.

With Formations, it's become clear that Hawktail are quite capable of blazing away at their own trail, successfully challenging the traditional roles of their respective instruments and genres. "We're just trying to find something good to play," says Tice. "We're not interested in adhering to the same old forms-merely adding some spice to something that we all know how it's going to end."

Catch Hawktail On Tour:

Jan 24 - New Orleans, LA - Folk Alliance

Jan 31 - Nashville, TN - Little Harpeth Brewing Album Release Show

Feb 1 - Nashville, TN - Grand Ole Opry

Feb 7 - Washington, DC - Songbyrd Music House

Feb 8 - Charlottesville, VA - The Front Porch

Feb 9 - Frederick, MD - Weinberg Center For The Arts

Feb 13 - Del Mar, CA - Town Hall

Feb 14 - Los Angeles, CA - McCabe's Guitar Shop

Feb 15 - Soquel, CA - Michael's on Main

Feb 16 - Berkeley, CA - Freight and Salvage

Feb 28 - Bennington County, VT - Billsville House Concerts

Feb 29-Mar 1 - Northampton, MA - Back Porch Music Festival

Apr 3 - Decatur, GA - Eddie's Attic

Apr 4 - Savannah, GA - Savannah Music Festival

June 18-21- Telluride, CO - Telluride Bluegrass Festival

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