Album Review:  Adam Hattaway and the Haunters – Woolston,Texas 

Adam Hattaway and the Haunters‘ new album, Woolston,Texas is rock’n’roll wrapped in Americana with an intoxicating rush of soul, romance and high spirits. At its core is songwriter, guitarist and lead singer Adam Hattaway, who sounds like he was raised listening to the King of Celtic Soul, Van Morrison.

Why Woolston? Which is an inner-city suburb of Christchurch. It may be a reference to Woodstock, New York where in 1968, Rock’n’roll went back to deeper roots after the Beatles  opened the Pandora’s Box to Psychedelia and Prog Rock the previous year. That was Dylan and The Band who retreated from the tempest to lay down the famous Basement Tapes. Other artists followed including Van Morrison in his pastoral retreat period.

There is a general tone of that era on this album. An easy, unforced but inspirational feel to all of these songs. At 30 minutes the album is lean and carries no excess baggage.

 Adam HattawayThe band hail from Christchurch. Hattaway has previously played with The Eastern. Elmore Jones guitar, Liam Quinn bass and Ryan Fisherman drums. This is the band’s third long player.

You Know You Will is dense and grungy like Neil Young and Crazy Horse and the guitars mesh into a wall with short riffs emerging out of the waves.

I Need Your Needs drops the sonic wall and the guitars lay out some pretty Country Rock. Rolling, impassioned vocals on a bright sunny melody. Hattaway lets go at the end and wails with passion.

Big Night and the voice starts with a soulful falsetto before dropping back to natural tenor. The Vannerisms in his vocal style is to the fore and is also there in spades on Sympathy. The guitars whip this into racing Power-Pop as the roll-call goes out. Come on Gina, Sabrina, Dominique, Rachel, Sandy, Mother(?).

Wasting Our Time and the guitars chime like the opening to Tumbling Dice. Loose and louche music which then races off. The same spirit which invested Exile on Main Street. Soulful Americana and there is a little Jagger in Hattaway’s style too. Irony and passion are combined.

 Adam HattawayThis album could certainly be taken as an attempt to invoke the spirit and feel of that touchstone work. In the similar way Liz Phair did Exile in Guyville. Guitars carry the melodic power.

Cuarenta Y Cinco Formas is sung in Spanish. A Latin rhythm and sounds Mexican Folk so could be their take on Mariachi.

Bad Things starts with a soft piano which opens out into Country Soul. Inspirational singing and Celtic spirits come close to speaking in tongues. Then they soothe everything down.

The album closes with a version of Warren Zevon’s Mutineer. Another song-writer whose style Hattaway draws a little from. Some sadness and resignation but rising up on a ringing Country Folk melody. I was born to rock the boat/ Some may sink and some may float.

Country-Rock, Gaelic Soul and Power-Pop. A great go at a Kiwi Exiles and Adam Hattaway and the Haunters largely nail it.

Rev Orange Peel