In Newburyport, Massachusetts, a small coastal town located thirty-five miles north of Boston, the five- piece band Red Tail Hawk make their vibrant blend of alternative, indie rock and pop. If this description sounds a bit wide open, well it is. But so is Red Tail Hawk’s music. At first listen one hears echoes of the jazz and pop-rock standards that have been churned out at the recitals of high school and college-aged music students for the better part of a century. This is of course training that doesn’t go away and though it may keep Red Tail Hawk from coloring outside the lines of experimentation, their latest album Night Soup is structurally sound and offers up a little something for everyone.
Red Tail Hawk opens Night Soup strongly with “Swimming” a Maroon 5-ish piano driven pop tune that sounds like it would fit right in on the Billboard Top 40 chart. Singer, principal songwriter and lead vocalist shows off his falsetto chops hitting the high notes like he was a ‘90s R&B singer. Next the band steps it up on the upbeat and vibrant “All Love” a total hand clapping, irresistibly dance-y club hit reminiscent of jazz rock kings Steely Dan.
On “Big Wind” Red Tail Hawk takes a turn into the dub reggae territory that the Police used to great effect in the ‘80s, with its laid back grooves and smooth horn section. This leads into “Fruitbasket” which brings together the rock and worldly music influences of Sting’s later solo work. Next on the doo-wop meets jazz-pop “You and I” sounds like something out of the songbook of an artist like Michael Bublé as does its seemingly sad predecessor “Telephone.”
Closing out Night Soup is the split level “Busted” which borrows equally from both Americana and reggae as it meanders along, followed by the raging and all-encompassing rhythm sections, which each get their time to shine on “River.”
In their career as a band so far Red Tail Hawk have opened for some pretty well-known bands who have triumphed in their genre, G Love perhaps being the most well-known and longest running. In this way, and as fun as Night Soup is to listen to at home, it never gives off the kinetic energy that one feels at live shows. For those of you who feel just as groovy at home as you do in a crowd, Night Soup will give you plenty of opportunities to dance around the living room, and for those of you who live for the awe of seeing highly-trained musicians let out of their cages, catch Red Tail Hawk if they ever play a town near you.
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