ASSAI RECORDINGS 17th September 2021
Literate, wise, gentle and funny; this is a mature sounding work from a man with enough youth to be constructively pretentious (twenty-nine and performing for ten years). I’ll try not to spoil too many of the lyric twists that await but half the joy is in the lyrics and half in the warm baritone voice and a delivery that seems to have a wink that let’s you know you’re in on a subtle joke.
There have been four singles and its no surprise. Best for me is “The Mauritian Badminton Doubles Chamion 1973”, the musical twinkle in the chorus, “and I call out, isn’t this living”, is great and the song itself is a poetic exploration of what legacy Hamish might want to leave. His tool is the ballpoint pen, and he compares that to Christopher Wren, who could see St Paul’s Cathedral, built in his lifetime, as something we remember him for 300 years later. Sounds dry but it isn’t – full of tune and song. Tunes tend to the flavour of chart-topping indie – think The Killers, etc, as if sung by a young Scott Walker.
“Heavy Elevator reads like my diary,” says Hawk. “It’s just about all in there, and it goes way back”. It does sound real but it is filtered through a poetic imagination. Another single, Caterpillar, has a fraught, post-punk beat and vocals to match. Second of the singles to be released, Calls To Tiree, not only references the nearly flat wind-blown island but has deliciously awkward lines like; “for years I was Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ track three” (that’s ‘Jealous Guy’, to save you looking it up). New Rhodedendrons, yet another single, begins “I’ve come over all Paul the Apostle” – which is one of Hamish’s things: He always opens on a memorable and intriguing line, hoping that will drag the listener in. It develops into a song about change and growth but still keeps perspective and pictures the down to earth – some rhodedendrons, a hyacinth that was nursed but fell out of the window.
Produced by Rod Jones, this is far more interesting than anything Idlewild did and is as close to a new thing as we’ve heard for a little while. This is a set of songs that not only sound good when you’re not totally focussing, but reward close listening. In that aspect, Hawk bears comparison with The Smiths, Pulp or The Divine Comedy. You’ll see a lot of singing along when he tours.
If you spend any time tuned to Radio Six, you’ll not need me to tell you that Hamish’s star is on the rise. Hamish Hawk (yes, that is his real name) has brought a great voice, measured delivery, good indie tunes and fabulously entertaining lyrics into a package that will be taking your attention for as long as the Society Of The Spectacle will allow.