Here’s a band to reckon with. Fronted by sisters Madeline and Emma Kelly, Bozeman’s Hawthorne Roots deliver a knockout punch on their debut EP. They feature stellar pickers Lucas Mace, lead guitar, Dustin Crowson, bass, and Michael DeJaynes, drums and percussion. Kevin McHugh sits in on keys, as does a monster horn section, with Jon Gauer on trombone, Tanner Fruit, saxophone, and Nathan Crawford, trumpet.
Besides sporting awesome vocal cords along with her sis, Madeline Kelly plays rhythm guitar; Mace and DeJaynes contribute vocals, too. Madeline wrote and arranged the songs.
The songbirds grew up in a musical family and Madeline began to pen songs at 16. She moved to Bozeman in 2008 to attend school, and older sis Emma followed five years later. Soon, the Hawthorne Roots were born.
The band calls their music “revved-up soul.” That’s evident in the killer chops both Emma and Madeline Kelly possess. The gals’ sisterly harmonies are perfectly in sync, the timbre of Emma’s lusty alto complementing Madeline’s sweet, high register.
“Fine Line,” co-arranged by Mace, is a bluesy, slow hip-shaker with a nifty chord progression. As on most songs here, the younger Kelly sings lead. Emma shares the lead at times, and matches Madeline’s inflections on the harmonies. Both singers bend and slide notes and mesh phrasing, showing their terrific vocal control. This scintillating sonic blend is accompanied by stinging guitar breaks, punchy horns, and bass and drums that percolate around the vocals.
“Glasses,” with DeJaynes singing lead, has a rockiin’ Muscle Shoals flair, and on “Ray,” Madeline seems to channel Amy Winehouse, with a slight Stevie Nicks trill thrown in.
To hear vocal pyrotechnics and crackerjack musicianship, don’t miss this band. They are currently touring the Northwest, and have summer festivals lined up, too.
– Mariss McTucker