Even though Sprout Don’t Pout is Kate Hathaway’s first full-length release, the album will likely surprise any listener who might have already felt familiar with her music. Those who only know her earlier recorded work will find a considerable shift in focus for this record. On the other hand, those who have only caught her a time or two in an acoustic solo setting may be surprised for very different reasons, since the full band vigor is prominent from the disc’s opening moments onward.

It may be advisable to listen to opening track “Try to Feel” without one’s significant other present, since it forcefully confronts the listener at the two-minute mark, arguing: “You know you deserve much better/I think you should try the taste of another.” The mischievous quality of these lyrics is reprised in a few other moments on the album-perhaps being most apparent on “Pour Another Round.”

The majority of the album adheres to more of a sobering attitude in both lyrical content and instrumentation. The chorus of “Silence Says Everything” shows an awareness of the songwriting act as only an attempt-one that cannot help falling short: “So here’s another song/Sometimes there’s just so much to say/That silence says everything.” The song’s restrained pace serves as a good fit for this statement of helplessness. “Don’t Walk Away” briefly opens with a cavorting guitar strum, yet rests into a feathery pace quickly thereafter.Cameron McGill makes an appearance on the brightly swaying “Love You” to share vocal duties.

“Lost My Mind” may well be the album’s most impressive track. Early on, it poses the recurring question “Hey, how’d I get here?” amid quiet, sparse instrumentation and other dissonant sounds. In a sense, this question can be about the song itself, since the near silence of the intro eventually erupts into a wall of noisy confusion. Considering the rest of the album’s slower pace, the chaotic howl that Kate unleashes here serves as quite the surprise. Much like the rest of the album, it’s a pleasant one.

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