Hamish Hawk – Laziest River EP

Laziest River is perhaps Hamish Hawk’s most honest venture yet, and a testament to his versatility as an artist

Album Review by Katie Cutforth | 01 May 2019
  • Hamish Hawk – Laziest River EP
Album title: Laziest River EP
Artist: Hamish Hawk
Label: Assai Records
Release date: 3 May

The charming and heartfelt songwriting of Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter Hamish Hawk has placed him as a central figure in the Scottish indie music scene. Hawk’s music brings to mind the gritty elegance of King Creosote, with whom he has collaborated, but with a glowing youthfulness that is both optimistic and constantly surprising.

His latest release Laziest River could not be more aptly named. It weaves and meanders, sleepy and beguiling yet driven constantly onwards by piano, drums and steady bass. The eight song EP is perhaps Hawk’s most honest venture yet, and a testament to his versatility as an artist – the instrumentation has been significantly stripped back since 2018’s throbbing indie-pop record From Zero to One, on which Hawk’s sound was fleshed out by his band The New Outfit. "It’s been possible for me to hide somewhat behind the dash and clamour in my previous releases," Hawk explains in a press release. "That’s simply not the case with these songs."

Jude the Obscure, a voiceless, softly dissonant, Erik Satie-esque prelude introduces the record’s characteristic lilting piano. Hawk’s vocals are clear and unadorned with a gentle Scottish lilt; he presents his careful observations through emotional and often unexpected storytelling set against soft, neat ballads. The songwriting finds a satisfying blend of idiosyncrasy and comfortability – just when you feel settled into the song it takes a new turn, there's unforeseen optimism, or an unexpected lyric surfaces to shift the mood.

Surely the highlight is the disarming, gently self-deprecating Dud that finishes the record. Epitomising Hawk, it's equal parts down to earth and devastating – a charmingly predictable piano-driven ballad with unpredictable and playful lyrics, Hawk declaring ‘I’m a dog / Not been taken for a walk in ages'.

Listen to: Mudchute, Swannanoa, Dud