“Light Blue Astro Van”
March 18, 2014 - InVogue
At the same time Hawthorne Heights are revisiting the past by celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their breakthrough debut The Silence In Black And White, frontman JT Woodruff has his eyes set in a different direction. The singer’s third solo full-length is a mix of bright power-pop (“Light Blue Astro Van”), tumbleweed country (“Locked In A Swell”) and Third Eye Blind ca. “Motorcycle Drive By” poignancy (the title track), swirled together with a hefty dose of from-the-heart nostalgia and melancholia. This musical direction is an interesting wrinkle; none of these songs would work as Hawthorne Heights material, so it’s encouraging that the singer has developed another creative outlet. Still, the slower numbers (“Blonde Haired Blue Eyed” among them) reveal what has been Woodruff’s Achilles heel as a songwriter for some years now: a combination of lyrics and melody that frequently comes across as elementary. In the past, the shortcomings have been largely covered up by Hawthorne Heights’ raucous pop-screamo sound, but Field Medicine's stripped-down arrangements only seem to maximize the imperfections. It’s not until you get to Woodruff’s cover of the Gin Blossoms' “Follow You Down” that you really understand what the singer’s big-picture goal was with Field Medicine, which ultimately makes for an unsatisfying listen.