April 24, 2024

HAMISH HAWK – ‘Angel Numbers’ – “literate, wise, gentle and funny”

POST-ELECTRIC 3rd February 2023

Sometimes led by wordplay, following rhymes and letting them lead him into twisted thought paths and fun situations. Other times enjoying just playing with words, Hamish Hawk sounds like he is writing to please himself and says “It is a bodily thrill to me to listen to a song and hear in it a thought I have never heard expressed in a song before.” Lucky that fits with a lot of other people, which is why you’ll find his last three singles in rotation on Radio 6. The crashing ‘Think Of Us Kissing’ has a grandeur that travels from falling in love to a workaday life crushing it – but via a smart visioning of words that bring the picture into focus.

Songs tend to the rushing pop, speeding along on sequencers and impulsively pulling affairs along. Hawk’s Scottish baritone, clear and enunciated, makes things theatrical and attention-grabbing. That’s not to say that there aren’t big sweeping ballads like ‘Frontman’, a duet with Anna Savage and what sounds like an accordion. I enjoy the rhyme-play and internal rhymes a lot, it reminds me of some of the Great American Songbook. “I’ve brought you some extortionate trinkets / it’s all vintage tat / saying that / Merry Christmas” from ‘Desperately’, a tale of museums and pretentiousness. Names are dropped furiously – in this song it’s, “I’m no Gala, you’re no Dali”. There is an archness, like the Smiths or The Divine Comedy, and a knowing wink in amongst the genuine love of song. He’s ready to join modern inheritors of the song tradition like Richard Hawley.

Hardly an overnight success, Hawk has worked hard on occasional releases since 2014 but Heavy Elevator, at the end of 2021, saw his flame finally catch with the public. He’d tied his band down tight and was working hard with Andrew Pearson, building up a catalogue of songs, enough to fill Heavy Elevator and this too – these came about in a purple patch of two weeks, before Heavy Elevator was released. “Angel Numbers is the only album I’ve ever recorded in the shadow of a vaguely successful record”, says Hamish.

We hark back to the Eighties sometimes with sequencers and prettied up post-punk. In ‘Dog-eared August’ this is cut through with sharp lines like “Would you look at that? I’m on my knees already / How embarrassing for you.” The title track is a biggie – with buzzing guitar sounds confirming arty credentials and texture, big chorus and authoritative vocal presentation. Considering and rejecting marriage, religion, dusting and mortgages, Hamish Hawk wants to stand as an adult outside societal conventions. “Life is for dying” he says, “are we doomed by design, or doomed by default?”

I’m going to repeat what I said about the last album and highly recommend it as literate, wise, gentle and funny.

We reviewed Hamish’s debut album here:

https://www.vanguard-online.co.uk/%EF%BB%BFhamish-hawk-heavy-elevator-literate-wise-gentle-and-funny/

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