• dan haywood's new hawks Dan Haywood's New Hawks (double CD, £11.50)

    label: Timbreland

    Dramatic, edgy and epic musical vision that reunites cosmic country music with some of its British folk origins. Five years in the making and over two hours in length, this thirty-two track album is both Dan Haywood’s New Hawks’ debut record and final release. The songs are all based on Haywood’s personal ruminations charting his experience as a lone songwriter, poet and ornithologist travelling around rural Scotland. Dan Haywood was first heard of as the leader of the Puma-Sutras, one of Lancaster’s most interesting outsider bands of the late 1990s to early 2000s. Disillusioned on their demise in 2003 he judiciously and secretly chose to relocate to the north coast of Scotland where he lived for the following eighteen months - often exploring unaccompanied, usually studying upland birds and almost always observing the people he met on his travels. On his return to Lancaster, a reclusive Haywood brought the majority of these songs to life in a month long creative burst and then assembled a band of kindred spirits to perform and capture the arrangements on record. Over time the band expanded to an eight piece and during the following years they painstakingly pieced together the entire New Hawks album in various country churches, schools and village halls near to their home city, while also taking their live performances around England and Scotland. The finished record is uncompromising in its dramatic, personal and raw interpretation - marrying country rock, folk and psychedelic influences, alongside Haywood’s ardent vocals. The instrumentation and arrangements are sometimes sparse, sometimes exquisite and sometimes cacophonous, with the band utilising guitars, fiddles, cellos, drums, pedal steel, piano and percussion along with some minimal use of bass, bongos and harmonium. The main focus is Haywood’s voice and genre-stretching lyrics – formidable and unmistakable, it conjures up something like an early David Bowie, Lou Reed or even Pip Proud. And musically there are stylistic influences that recall the mid-1970s exploits of Roy Harper and David Crosby, together with the traditional sounds of Shetland fiddler Aly Bain. Haywood himself semi-humorously defines his music as “country and northern” or “upland cathartidelia” and alludes to his tunes as “odes to the wilds of Caithness and Sutherland (that are one part therapy and two parts dementia)”.

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