A delicate, bubble-wrapped hissing, a soft piano, and a dash of ambient make-up: meet Ian Hawgood’s follow-up to ‘The Shattered Light’ (2012). Eilean Records have assigned the colour blue, its season Summer, and its light notes sing of warmer climes. The music gives the appearance of being tender, but that isn’t a sign of weakness. Never is that a sign of weakness. The piano is open, and vulnerable as a result, but it continues to do good in the world. The notes swirl in the air like loose petals and falling blossom. It wants to go to the beach, it wants to share a picnic in the park, enjoying its short life while the weather’s good and the sun’s up.
The transparent tones spread to new areas, like dandelion seeds caught on a baby breeze, ghosting out of the music’s world and falling into the emptiness of its deathly silence before reincarnating as a new phrase. The piano is like a shield, guarding the music’s gentle nature from life’s evil intruders. The downbeat track titles are there for all to see – ‘Every Ending Is A Little Sadder Now You’re Gone’ and ‘Hurt Whispers On’ are especially sore – but tears don’t stain the ink of the stave, and neither do they drip upon the music. There ain’t no cure for the summertime blues, at least according to Eddie Cochran and The Who, but these blues are as bright as a July sky, and the piano is more reflective than anything else. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to change the music’s outlook, and that speaks to the quiet strength of the album.
The music seems to be coming out of a coma, out of a struggle, re-emerging from a bleak hibernation as the sun lights up its face. It’s alone with its thoughts, but it’s never isolated. As introverts need the escape route of alone-time in order to recharge and recuperate, the music does, too, keeping its head up with nine positive affirmations in a world too cruel for a good heart. Recorded using his childhood piano and absconding from the use of any computers or effects (save for reel delays), the result is freedom in music. Its absence is refreshing. Standing alone, the music dares to hope, never wanting to land. Hawgood’s music burns into the heart, stretching out like a delay-drenched, endless summer.