the arboretum sessions
The core of Hawthorn’s sound is captured by a simple field recorder: Heather Scott and Taylor Holland’s voices, a single acoustic guitar, and the ambient chorus of the natural world.
For a band formed from a series of outdoor jams, it is fitting that Hawthorn’s very first release is a charming EP recorded in the Arnold Arboretum on a crisp autumn morning.
The songs of The Arboretum Sessions are well-suited to the record’s format. “There’s something in the simplicity that makes it easier for stories like this to be told, and heard,” says Taylor. Her four original compositions, arranged with Heather, sit comfortably alongside the Scottish classic ‘Wild Mountain Thyme,’ needing no additional instrumentation: “nothing else is needed when these two sing together, and that’s just the way we like it,” writes Red Line Roots.
The record opens with Underground, an a capella tune investigating a healthy artistic process through the metaphor of a plant: “You will see the best parts of me / when the rest stays buried underground.” Underground affirms the need for a rich personal creative life, and a thoughtful consciousness about how an artist shares their work with the world.
On Borderline, “the timeless quality” (Red Line Roots) of Hawthorn’s music is at full force. “The first time I heard Taylor play Borderline, I thought it was an old folk ballad,” says Heather, “Everything from the structure to the story makes it easy to relate to.” Yet while the true story of a false lover sits easily in the ballad tradition, Hawthorn’s social consciousness is revealed in the complexity of the character described: “my lover is not steady, no courting man is he / while others call more constantly he never chases me / but oh his eyes are always locked in mine / my lover sings to me across the Borderline.”
Come and Gone is a foot-stomping ode to home and homesickness for the Pacific Northwest, written during a snowy Boston winter. “Tired of feeling so alone / where’s the place that I’ll call home,” the voices wonder, before landing on the declarative “setting sun will lead me there / my home’s not going anywhere.” This song will be re-recorded with a full band on Hawthorn’s forthcoming second LP, Maggie Willow.
What was intended to be the final song of the sessions is Wild Mountain Thyme, a song both Heather and Taylor grew up singing. Usually joined by audiences when they perform it, the chorus affirms Hawthorn’s focus on community and nature with the rousing yet reflective “and we’ll all go together / to pull wild mountain thyme / all across the blooming heather.”