STARTHROWERS the newest album by Shannon Hawley is a sensational elegy to the untold stories and invisible labor of women. Across these tracks, she pays homage to the nurturers who have made the world turn, connecting communities and honoring the earth itself. Hawley’s songs are a thread through memory, binding together the dead and the living.
"Our History" is a big stand-out, with a vintage throwback sound, and Shannon’s almighty vocals. She sings about an unseen woman inside us "tucked down deep inside your bones" - Hawley sings of bodies that break down and rebuild themselves, climbing ladders of knowledge passed down. Sirens call from the deep and ambulances line the streets, a "ball of fire underneath" and the dead always with us.
The jazzy "Riverine" finds Shannon mulling over her clay-formed roots, the "muck by the riverbed." A childhood witness to lifespans, she wonders what she’s made of and what was taught without words. Hawley sings of becoming a "killer" and dredging up the child inside, water rising endlessly. There’s a woman she never met, who moves inside her bones; Shannon prays they’re not defined by missteps, that lodged water will carve a new course. The river changes course, but memories remain.
"Starthrowers" opens like a dilapidated door "always open and always broken." Welcoming strangers with an offer of shelter, Shannon sings of worlds crumbling in an instant and surviving alone. When cosmos-spanning beings depart, "it’s gonna be such a long dark night."
"Bones, Blood, Saltwater, and Song" gives an earthy voice to girlhood spent "walking in the woods." Sisters, salamanders, pain responded to with song; she called it "paradise." Falling in love to ocean drums meant hair-combing and care, losing a heart to keep a body.
Shannon concludes with "Walk Each Other Home," hopes turning earth and yearning into song. The lyrics sing "all the songs and stories / lived but untold / with all the love been given / spinning poison to gold." This suggests honoring and upholding the unrecorded histories, care, and hardship that have shaped experiences for good or ill. There is "poison to gold" in even the darkest of stories or moments of struggle.
STARTHROWERS is a call to reckon with the unseen forces that have built and sustained us. Over dusky production and vulnerable vocals, Shannon Hawley crafts a space for voices too often marginalized. Her songs are ladders: climb them, and you emerge with knowledge of the depth and labor it took to build the world around you.
Though I have highlighted a few tracks here, the full experience of this album is glorious and profound. Follow Shannon Hawley on her socials, and you will discover more of the deep knowledge and care that bring light even to the hardest times. STARTHROWERS is a call home to itself, and one we would do well to answer. This is just the beginning.