Hamish Hawk – Laziest River

Piano-led collection from the Edinburgh singer-songwriter

Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter Hamish Hawk has dubbed his previous indie-pop work as 'dash and clamour'. In Laziest River, an eight-track EP (featuring a few songs which have appeared on a previous mini-album), Hawk certainly strips away any residue brashness and settles for a largely sparse piano-led collection. Only the closing track, 'Dud', harks back to the jangly Divine Comedy-esque melodic thrum of his 2018 full-band affair (with The New Outfit), From Zero to One (Hawk describes Laziest River as an accompaniment to that release).

Opening instrumental keys number, 'Jude the Obscure' might recall 90s existentialist Gallic wannabes The Bathers, and it re-takes its seat as soon as the tune has made its point, swiftly remembering that this is the commencement of a stopgap EP rather than looking to make a bold statement of long-player intent. The first vocal number, 'Mudchute' (an unlikely tribute to a Canary Wharf urban farm?) sashays in with Neil Hannon, or Hawk's showbiz pal King Creosote, looking on afar in admiration. 'Jackie O' has the echoey nostalgia of the latter's Scotland With Love despite getting all transatlantic with its references to two of JFK's women (the eponymous widow and Marilyn Monroe). We're off to Eastern Europe next as 'Russian Taxi' teases us with some sombre atmospherics before heading off into the night at the less than two minute-mark just when it starts to get motoring.

For Tom Waits fans, 'Swannanoa' will feel like a solid tribute, its church piano and distant Swordfishtrombones accordion vibe underpinning lyrics about lies, balconies and a pal called Johnny. There's a great album in Hamish Hawk, for sure, with Laziest River feeling like the beginnings of a slow trickle towards that ultimate goal.

Out Fri 3 May.

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