ANDREW HAWKEY – HINDSIGHT
It is to my shame that I’ve never heard of Andrew Hawkey, and yet, here he is at 80, celebrating 50 years of his career. What is most interesting about this retrospective is that it is presented chronologically, taking us back to the late 1960s to start.
The album opens with “Between Two Horizons,” a track that invites comparisons to Nick Drake, and the reprise of this song in 2022, which appears at the end of the album, sounds even better. By 1974, Hawkey’s sound becomes wistful on “Columbine.”
In 1978, despite the punk movement and other musical trends of the time, “Clipper Lane Pirates” presents Hawkey as a proto Seth Lakeman, demonstrating his unique artistic direction. “Just One Night Of Love” surprises with a rockier sound, and the theme of wanting to get laid might align with the emerging New Romantic movement, in a fashion?
“Take Me” introduces a breathless female vocal from the mid-1980s, adding a refreshing twist to Hawkey’s repertoire. “Help Me (Pat Grover’s Blues)” showcases full band instrumentation and a classically executed harmonica. It’s worth bearing in mind that this is the height of grunge!
“Just The Sky” features a poignant 30 seconds of harmonica towards the end, creating an atmospheric experience reminiscent of standing on the shore, gazing out over the rocks towards the horizon.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, as the saying goes, and never is that truer than right here. The 17 songs here offer a fascinating journey through his evolution as an artist over the past 50 years – and his ability to not give in to trends. It is a captivating retrospective that highlights the longevity and talent of Andrew Hawkey, a musician who may have been overlooked by me, but really shouldn’t have been.
AMANDA SHIRES AND BOBBIE NELSON – LOVING YOU
Amanda Shires first witnessed Bobbie Nelson’s remarkable talent when she attended a festival where Nelson was captivating audiences with her music. This experience had a profound impact on the then 16-year-old Shires, who recalls being in awe of Nelson’s effortless and confident playing, as well as her radiant presence. Seeing a woman like Nelson forging a successful career in music at a young age inspired Shires and made her own path seem achievable.
“Loving You” is a labour of love, with tracks recorded before Nelson’s passing in March of the previous year. The album features standout moments like “Waltz Across Texas,” where the piano takes centre stage, and “Always On My Mind,” where Shires showcases her remarkable vocal abilities. The album also includes “Old Fashioned Love,” a lively and nostalgic country hoedown. Furthermore, it revisits familiar tunes like “Summertime” and “Dream A Little Dream,” offering a fresh and captivating take on these classics. These renditions are truly gorgeous and deserve a listen.
The album concludes with the stunning rendition of “Over The Rainbow,” which captivates listeners with its beauty and emotional depth. This song is emblematic of the album as a whole. “Loving You” serves as a testament to Nelson’s legacy while also showcasing Shires’ own musical prowess.
CANDLEBOX – LIVE AT THE NEPTUNE
“Have we got a show for you,” exclaims Kevin Martin, the singer with Candlebox, setting the stage for their performance of “Cover Me.” And yes, it’s acoustic, but it’s “acoustic” with a twist. Pay close attention to the solo—it’s raucous and electrifying.
As for what Martin claimed, he’s not wrong. For one night only, all four original members (Kevin Martin, Peter Klett, Bardi Martin, and Scott Mercado) reunited, creating an LP that was recorded at the Neptune Theatre in Seattle, WA on November 5, 2021. This special reunion celebrated the 26th anniversary of their iconic album, Lucy.
“Blinders” further proves the point that a great song is a great song and can be interpreted in various ways. The band’s rendition showcases the timeless quality of the track. However, “He Calls Home” veers towards a slightly overwrought delivery, perhaps aiming for heightened emotion.
On the other hand, “Change” shines brightly, and Martin’s voice truly stands out, showcasing his incredible vocal range and power. As the music swells, “You” takes on a grand and expansive sound, leaving a lasting impression on the listener.
Finally, the singer introduces “Far Behind” as a song for everyone, and this sentiment extends to Candlebox’s music as a whole. Their power remains undiminished on what was clearly a special night.
TIZANE – FOREVER IS NOTHING
Tizane’s highly anticipated sophomore album, “Forever Is Nothing,” lives up to the high praise garnered by their debut release. The London-based artist has undoubtedly captured the attention of industry veterans, with Vibrator Pat Collier hailing Tizane as “one of the most talented and gifted artists I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with.”
The opening track, “Off the Edge,” immediately displays Tizane’s ambition. “Please Don’t Tell Me the End” (spoiler alert: it’ll end with Tizane being a star) exudes an undeniable swagger, embodying a sense of anticipation.
“I’m Not Her” takes a delightful turn, embracing a folk flavour that adds depth to the album’s sonic palette. Tizane’s authentic delivery and heartfelt storytelling shine through.
In “Small World,” Tizane seamlessly transitions from a strident riff to vulnerable lyrics. The juxtaposition of confidence and fragility in the line “I want to impress, but I’m certain to mess up” is evident.
Collaborating with Rob Davis, known for his work on Kylie Minogue’s classic “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” earns bonus points with me. He co-writes “Every Minute.” While it may not surpass the perfection of Davis’ previous hits (he was also in Mud), it makes a damn good attempt.
“Why Not Me” channels the essence of K-flay, infusing the album with a touch of edginess and attitude.
The title track showcases Tizane’s stunning balladry and the sheer beauty of their voice. With the album, Tizane has undoubtedly set the stage for stardom.