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Heyward Howkins: Be Frank, Furness

Heyward Howkins, album review, Be Frank, Furness, Heyward Howkins album review

Heyward Howkins — Be Frank, Furness

Release date(s): Nov. 5
Our Rating: 2.5/5
Spec Recs: “Praline Country,” “Sweet Tea Oleander”
In one word: Mediocre

Heyward Howkins second album, Be Frank, Furness, is more upbeat and pop-driven than his previous album. I have to say, I loved his first album as it reminded me of Justin Vernon’s nostalgia-driven melodies and Sam Beam’s whispering subtleties. However, this album seems to miss that mark.

The first two tracks, “Nogales” and “Cut & Corral,” sound exactly the same. So much the same, that when the second track started, I checked my player to make sure the “repeat” feature was turned off (it was). Not to say that the tracks were bad, but I enjoy variety when it comes to songwriting.

I am unsure what to make of the third track, “Rare Earths.” Part of me likes it: the finger-picking of the electric guitar, the quiet tone of his voice, and the fact that it’s similar to the tracks on his previous album. However, the bell ornamentation at 1:38 is distracting from the other elements of the song. It sticks out so much that I almost cringe when the bells play. Ornamentation is supposed to be just that; it’s meant to accessorize the other instruments, not steal the spotlight.

The forth track, “Praline Country,” makes me feel better about the already unsatisfactory album. This single could easily be played on the radio, as it sticks out as a pop single that encourages you to nod your head and “oooh” along with the background singers.

I found the first line of the title track interesting: “Lemme be frank, Furness / I should’ve quit this main line mess / They were first world problems yes / turned into first world debt.” This line for some reason stuck out to me, and I think it’s honestly because he used the term “first world problems” in a song, which I have up until now only heard in conversation after someone would complain about something that is deemed a privilege. This song could easily fit onto an Arcade Fire album (Neon Bible?) as the lyrics mirror Win Butler’s dark, hopeful insight on society and the sound of the instrumentation doesn’t overpower the voice, and adds just the right amount of flavor when no voice is heard.

Lorraine, you look divine doing a clumsy hand jive,” is the first line of “Lorraine,” the sixth track. This song has quite a bit of different elements, which makes it a little difficult to follow.

Sweet Tea Oleander” begins with finger-picking and a rattle reminiscent of a rattlesnake. I’d have to say that this song is probably my favorite on the album. It sounds more well-written and put together than the other songs. The back-up vocals add some seasoning to the song, as well as a jazzy drumbeat that kicks in.

To be quite honest, I was somewhat disappointed with this album. I was such a fan of Heyward’s first album that I couldn’t wait to review his second. I wish I could say nothing but good things; however, it seemed I was almost trying too hard to like the album.

More of Heyward Howkins on The Spec:


  1. OOF! Here are the correct lyrics in case you are interested:
    Lemme be frank, furness/I should’ve quit this main line mess/they were first world problems yes/ turned into first world debt


    • Thank you for your comment, we’ve corrected the lyrics.

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