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CD REVIEW: Hilary Hawke - Goodwill
By Don Sechelski - 06/23/2009 - 05:41 PM EDT

Artist: Hilary Hawke
Album: Goodwill
Genre: Alt-bluegrass/country
Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
CD Review:

I have to admit it; I didn’t know there was an alt-bluegrass scene in New York. Goodwill is the new release from the Hilary Hawke Band, an alt-bluegrass/country ensemble from Brooklyn. The band consists of Hilary Hawke on banjo and vocals, Brian Geltner on drums and percussion, Mike Brown on bass, and Brion Snyder on guitar. Hilary Hawke penned the songs with the occasional help of Brian Geltner who also produced with Brion Snyder.

Hawke’s songs are at once familiar and fresh. She draws on the classics like The Stanley Brothers and Earl Monroe but injects her own twist. A perfect example is the title cut, Goodwill.  A bluegrass banjo with Waterboys style percussion is supported by backing vocals oooing and aaaahing like a string section. The chorus breaks out into a hymn as the banjo drops away. This is good stuff.

Throughout Goodwill, Hawke’s songs and the band inventiveness provide a unique and refreshing sound that is charming and addictive. Heaven features Brion Snyder on keys in a gospel tinged tune. The handclaps are reminiscent of tent revival meetings. Down The Road is a nod to classic bluegrass. Kari Groff joins the band on fiddle and Jacob Tilove picks mandolin as Hawke sings that she will be with her darling “down the road.” Mother Night is a touching ballad duet with acoustic guitarist, John Dyer.

The Hilary Hawke Band has a winner with Goodwill. The arrangements are fresh, the band is strong and energetic, and Hawke’s songs stand well. If this is a representative sample of New York alt-bluegrass scene then I’m in. Check out Goodwill.

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