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Blue-Eyed Hawk: Under The Moon

Bruce Lindsay By

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Blue-Eyed Hawk is an exciting new band from the UK, debuting its original songs on Under The Moon. The album title is taken from the poem by W B Yeats: the band's name also comes from that poem. Such choices suggest a literate quartet, a suggestion supported by the intelligent, thoughtful, lyrics and music to be found on this album.

Formed by vocalist Lauren Kinsella, trumpeter Laura Jurd, guitarist Alex Roth and multi-instrumentalist Corrie Dick, Blue-Eyed Hawk comes across as a democratic ensemble—everyone gets at least one composer credit, each member contributes vocals. As a result, Under The Moon is characterized by its variety of musical styles and approaches, rather than by a single strong persona—a hard-to-pigeonhole album from a hard-to-pigeonhole band.

Kinsella's "Oyster Trails" opens with a rather disquieting voice, buried beneath electronic treatments courtesy of guest producer Leafcutter John , before settling into a slow tempo, moody, groove that matches Kinsella's downbeat lyrics. "Somewhere" gives the instrumentalists a chance to let rip—especially Dick, on the drum kit. It's a semi-cover—not of the Bernstein love song, but the Wizard Of Oz classic "Over The Rainbow." Kinsella marries her own music to EY Harburg's lyrics to create a punk-come-free-jazz version of the much loved tale of bluebirds and rainbows. It calms down in the closing minute, enough of the original melody appearing in Jurd's trumpet part to ensure that Harold Arlen also deserves a composer credit.

The raucous "Somewhere" is immediately counterbalanced by Roth's gentle, bucolic "Aurora 5am," complete with birdsong. Kinsella's "Spiderton" tells its mysterious arachnid-related tale with the added delight of co-producer Tom Herbert's electric bass groove. Three songs take their lyrical inspirations from poets. "O Do Not Love Too Long" is based on Yeats' poem of the same name, "Valediction" uses the words of Seamus Heaney and "Reflections On The Spiral" is inspired by French poet Armand Silvestre.

Jurd's "Living In The Fast Lane" mixes punkish guitar riffing with a more cinematic chorus that's oddly reminiscent of Michael Randall's "All Of My Life" as sung by Diana Ross. Dick's harmonium is the centre of his own composition, the instrumental "Intro (For Fathers)." "For Tom And Everything" and "Try To Turn Back" form a beautiful and arresting duo of songs—spacious and lyrical, they showcase Kinsella's voice and the band's ability to lay back and build the drama slowly (although the closing section of "Try To Turn Back" gets rather overwhelmed by electronics).

"Valediction" keeps up the mood of quiet contemplation. Music by Roth, lyrics from Heaney's poem, the instrumentation is at its most spacious—simple piano chords from Dick, Jurd's lonely, mournful, trumpet and, ultimately, Roth's guitar join Kinsella's voice. It's a sweet, sad, way for Blue-Eyed Hawk to say goodbye.

Track Listing: Oyster Trails; Somewhere; Aurora 5am; Spiderton; O Do Not Love Too Long; Reflections On The Spiral; Living In The Fast Lane; Intro (For Fathers); For Tom And Everything; Try To Turn Back; Valediction.

Personnel: Lauren Kinsella: vocals; Laura Jurd: trumpet, synthesizer, vocals; Alex Roth: guitar, effects, synthesizer, vocals; Corrie Dick: drums, percussion, harmonium, piano, vocals; Tom Herbert: bass (4), synthesizer (7).

Title: Under The Moon | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Edition Records


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