Little bird, little bird, what will you do with your sorrows and your stories? ‘I will tell them over again, they're with me as I go.’
“This really is the essence of Spun Open, the debut album from Boston-based duo Hawthorn. Taylor Holland and Heather Scott chronicle the highs, the lows and the lessons of past years, imbuing the matter-of-fact temperament of the folk ballad with candid sincerity. Musically the whole album has the quality of threads spun out into loose acoustic textures that weave together and fray apart under interlocking vocals. The songs are some of them sad and some of them sweet and all of them resonating with meaning and the unsaid. They will burrow into a nook in your heart.” - Eleanor Elektra
‘Little Bird,’ a short call and response accompanied only by body percussion, opens the record. The dialogue between the Mama and Little Bird voices is a tender reflection on a young woman’s journey into the world, hinting at where Hawthorn has come from and where it is going.
From the sensual ‘Spun Open’ to the bitter loss of ‘Shadow’ and the nostalgia of ‘Borderline,’ much of the record treats with romantic love in its many forms. Hawthorn’s voices blend in joy, sorrow, and resolution, carrying each other through the stages of each song’s journey. There are moments of elation-- “the fire touch of skin on skin” and wise reflection-- “my lover is a rambler, I cannot keep him here / but though he’s on the highway, his heart is always near,” finding and celebrating the soft nuances of relationship.
On the album’s lead single, ‘Salt,’ heartbreak is transformed into a sacred reclamation of wild feminine power. The ocean, at first a place to grieve, becomes the source of active healing, offering inspiration for what Red Line Roots has called “an endless abyss of emotion...that makes its way from the hopeless and tormented to the light and optimistic.”
Hawthorn’s cover of ‘She Belongs to Me’ reimagines Bob Dylan’s anti-love song as a celebration of sisterhood and female artistry, a light-hearted middle finger to anyone that might think heartbreak would hold these women back. When sung by Heather and Taylor, the words “she’s got everything she needs, she’s an artist, she don’t look back” transform from condemnation to affirmation.
Bookending the body of Spun Open are Appalachia and Goldenrod, two co-writes with Hawthorn mentor and friend Henna Wallace (who contributes vocals to Goldenrod as well). These songs carry an gentle but persistent quest for home, from the plaintive call ‘Appalachia show me home’ to the firm questioning of the goldenrod plant ‘are you here beside me?’ The longing for home resonates deeply, echoing Little Bird’s sorrowful discovery that her heart is ‘all in pieces out in the world.’
The album concludes with a haunting rendition of ‘The Parting Glass,’ a traditional song of Heather and Taylor’s Celtic heritage that they sing at the end of every performance. Recorded late at night around a single microphone, the voices are accompanied by a water-filled glass, a final nod to the ethos of the entire recording project: arrangements that could just as easily take place on a porch in late summer as in a studio.