Photo by Kate Harrold |

Getting to see a musician’s process can be a fascinating thing and, graciously, Philly wordsmith and tunesmith Heyward Howkins has been very open with us about his own songwriting journey.

A year ago, not too long after the release of his debut LP The Hale and the Hearty, he began posting iPhone-recorded demos on his Soundcloud page, sketches of songs he was working on for the next record. One of those was “Praline Country,” and The Key’s Julie Miller said at the time that the song “is Howkins at his best – it’s melodically on-point and vocally distinctive, with the southern breeze of previous tracks like ‘Spanish Moss’ and ‘The Live Oak.'”

This process continued over the ensuing months, with several more songs recorded in mobile phone audio (and some performed for local video session series), up until this fall’s release of the new Be Frank, Furness LP. On it, the version of “Praline” carries the same alluring, immersive melody and ear-catching vocals, but with a snappy backbeat and warm instrumental arrangement care of drummer Erik Schmidt, bassist Josh Newman and keyboard player Meggie Morganelli. This week brings the vinyl release of the album on BITBY Records, and a celebratory show at Johnny Brenda’s on Thursday night, and every day this week we’ll explore Be Frank, Furness on Unlocked, The Key’s regular spotlight on new and significant releases from Philadelphia-area artists.

Tomorrow, I’ll review the album, and Wednesday we’ll see some video of early performances of its songs. Thursday we’ll sit down for a chat with Heyward on the day of his album release, and Friday, we’ll have a recap of the show in photos and video. Today, we bring you a free mp3 of the utterly catchy “Praline Country.” Download it below, and check back all week for more on Heyward Howkins and his new album in Unlocked.