Hamish Anderson

Independent release, 2016

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


The blues can be about a lot of things. Sometimes it’s about honoring tradition, sometimes it’s about clever songwriting, sometimes it’s about fiery guitar slinging, sometimes it’s about an unforgettable voice. And sometimes, it’s all about the vibe.

Hamish Anderson is a terrific singer and an excellent guitar player and a quality songwriter. He might not be a world-beater in any of those categories—yet—but he’s unquestionably strong in each. Where he shines, where he rises above the crowd, is in that intangible, difficult-to-pin-down area of vibe. You feel the full emotional weight of the blues in these songs, which are rich with subtle stylistic details that tell you you’re dealing with a dedicated fan who both understands the genre and is eager to grow in it and through it.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Kickoff cut “Trouble” locates a steady-churning rhythm over warm Hammond accents as Anderson’s vocals offer a sort of gently lived-in Gary Moore growl, building toward a closing solo that’s restrained but nimble. Next up, “Fire” is a steady-burning mid-tempo number, again with a sort of “Whiter Shade Of Pale” Hammond tone backing Anderson’s pulsing, soaring solos. “18 Days” feels like a rewrite of Moore’s “Still Got The Blues” for a while, at least until the reverb-heavy solo gives way to an outro that adds gently burbling sitar in the background.

Anderson shows his chops and ability to tackle different elements of the blues again and again through the rest of this album. There’s a flashy acoustic number that evolves into a sort of gospel-Motown pastiche (“Holding On”), a gentle loping boogie (“Working Blues”), funky electric blues (“Hold On Me”) and a couple of hooky electro-soul numbers featuring smooth grooves and a nice falsetto (“Don’t Look Back” and “U”).

All around and in between, he shows off a strong feel for traditional blues on the smoldering Willie Clarke-Clarence Reid cover “Am I A Good Man,” as well as weeping licks with more than a little George Harrison in their musical DNA on the hypnotic ballad “My Love.” Closer “My Sweetheart, You” returns to traditional blues with a song that begins exactly as a blues number should: “I’ve been alone so long…”

It’s notable that it requires a close read of the liner notes to detect that this album was recorded in two different studios with several different rhythm sections; clearly, Anderson has a vision and, yes, a vibe that he’s able to recreate at will. That vision, emotional intelligence and drive will serve him well as he continues to grow as an artist and moves from reinterpreting different blues styles to reimagining them in a voice that’s completely his own. Hamish Anderson is the real deal and the album marks him as a talent to watch.

Rating: B

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