Feb 03, 2023
By Andy Robbins
Speaking to Under the Radar last year ahead of its release, Hamish Hawk described Angel Numbers as “as a gaze upwards with ideas of success, fame, ambition, and hoping.” As his new record finally sees the light of day, Hawk should be prepared for those ideas to quickly become reality.
The Edinburgh-based singer/songwriter’s stock has been gradually building since the release of Heavy Elevator two years ago. It was a collection of brilliant chamber-pop that would quite rightly win plaudits galore and bring his unashamedly literate songs to a wider audience. And yet Angel Numbers sees Hawk take a significant stride forward. There are turns of phrase contained within his trademark lyrics that sound so natural, but which on closer inspection have clearly been pored over with forensic attention to detail.
“Who buys a jacket from a gun maker?” he asks in the opening line of the swooning “Money,” a song that offers droll reflection on adulthood and the path taken by his contemporaries, before observing, “Legs in those jeans like you were born to ride a Clydesdale.” They’re words that could be read like an Alan Bennett monologue, but equally sound like Scott Walker in his pomp.
Hawk’s lyrical dexterity has often seen him compared to Morrissey. However, at no point on Angel Numbers does he appear to share the Mancunian’s oft-barbed tongue. Instead, there’s an infectious cheeriness to his dry wit, even on the album’s more reflective moments.
“Think of Us Kissing” packs a punch with its soaring chorus and perhaps the finest delivery of the word shtick ever put to vinyl, tape, or hard drive, but Hamish Hawk is as much a band as it is a solo project. The lush instrumentation that sits under the frontman’s eloquent words provides a variety of riches.
Andrew Pearson’s sublime guitar shines brightly during “Desperately,” “Bill,” and the sumptuous closing “Grey Seals.” Meanwhile, guest vocalists Anna B Savage and Samantha Crain accompany Hawk on the stunning duets “Frontman” and “Rest and Veneers” respectively. The latter in particular has echoes of The Magnetic Fields at their prettiest.
Producer Rod Jones has somehow managed to combine all of this with a deft touch that lends the record an air of ageless grandeur that swerves any time-stamped genre or scene. Angel Numbers is a timeless record that combines beauty, joy, and sublime observations. (www.hamishhawk.com)
Author rating: 8/10
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