By Greg Cahill | From the November-December 2022 issue of Strings magazine
Covid-19 led the members of Hawktail—Brittany Haas, fiddle; Paul Kowert, double bass; Jordan Tice, guitar; and Dominick Leslie, mandolin—to venture outdoors and give Place of Growth an echo of the natural world. The woody tones of fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and double bass resonate throughout this often playful, always enchanting string band album.
Several of the tracks were recorded while the band camped in rural Shelbyville, Tennessee, south of Nashville. The album is the follow-up to the group’s critically acclaimed 2020 sophomore effort, Formations. Strings readers may recognize the 35-year-old Haas as the one-time fiddle kid who performed and recorded at 14 with Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings, before moving on to Crooked Still and the Dave Rawlings Machine.
As befits the band’s name, the languid, liquid pace of nature flows throughout Place of Growth. These gentle sound sketches carry the listener aloft, from the flight of “Updraft” to the reflective daydreaming of the Celtic-influenced “Shallows” (with a beautifully bowed bass solo by Kowert). “Wanderings. Where?” evokes a trek through a dense forest. “Pomegranate in the Oak Tree” strolls along from a slow, sun-dazed duet between Kowert and Tice before picking up the pace with Haas’ soaring fiddle. Band members kept things fresh by trading arranging duties amongst themselves. Padiddle has published a sheet-music broadside of “Shallows,” arranged by Kowert for fiddle and guitar, available for $25 at padiddlerecords.com.