Album: Hamish Hawk – Heavy Elevator review

by Craig Howieson

On an immaculate collection of songs that tether themselves to your memory, Hamish Hawk establishes himself as a songwriting heavyweight

Ah sweet romance. The crimsons and reds of racing blood, the salty lick of tears at the corner of lips, and the dazzling lights and siren of alarms. Heavy Elevator, the latest album from Edinburgh based, Hamish Hawk, is abound with it. It is there from the throbbing pulse of synth that traces through opener, Vivan Comma, and it is still present in the fading twinkle of optimistic notes that round out New Rhododendrons. But, residing a world away from the typical fare of romantic love, the romance found here is in the trembling lows and giddy elevations of a life thoroughly lived.

Continuing a long held relationship with Rod Jones of Idlewild and The Birthday Suit, who acts as Hawk’s manager and now producer, Heavy Elevator is a richly textured enclave of senses and sounds ranging from baroque pop to strutting pomp rock to grieving balladry. An erudite and highly literate individual, Hawk wields his words with an intriguing mix of heartfelt confession and scathingl sarcastic wit. Flowing from the mundane to the absurd, his own memories are peppered throughout, and while the rose tinted glasses are occasionally crushed under the foot of heavy experience, there is a palatable ache of gratitude to his stories. His are words that ring out from the rafters – from the mouth of a songwriter happy to have these tales to share. 

It is no stretch to say there is a bardic quality to his writing. Utilising a skilful matrimony of prose and lyricism, his lyrics hint at a bookshelf creaking with Gordon Mackay Brown and Norman MacCaig, and leads to enviable verses – (‘Time lifts an eyelid / Lilac kisses an iris / and I rise blinded / You take no notice’Your Ceremony).

There are no rough edges on Heavy Elevator. Hawk’s compositions and Jones’ production are immaculate. This does not, however, rob the record of a human connection. The care and attention to detail in its creation are what tether it to your memory. And the romance in which he wraps his own past is a lesson to all of us: to embrace life and love hard, regardless of the outcome, for it will all be over far too soon – ‘If you lose track of what you’ve loved in the past / There’s no going back’New Rhododendrons).

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