Horizons and Hurricanes
Horizons and Hurricanes is available via:
Holding On– 9.3
Till My Heart Stops Beating– 9.2
Jigsaws (Bonus)– 9.2
Bridges for Burning– 9.4
Bridges for Burning
20th June, 2014
ALL SONGS WRITTEN BY:
Leeds-based artist Adam Hume has recently featured on several of Shiftin’ Shade’s get-up-and-dance Swing gems: here he is moving into the spotlight. Stunning texture and depth conjoin with a distinctive beating heart. Horizons and Hurricanes offers force and weather-beaten soul- with plenty of future promise.
THE proclivious nature of music is on my mind right now…
for a number of different reasons. In my own life, the issues of finance and reality are competing and stabbing away: not only making events rather difficult, but delaying my musical ambitions. One of the best things about music in general, is that it is free to imagine: you can write, hone your voice and plan- without it costing a single penny. With today’s technology, putting together tracks can be inexpensive and simple- this means that a lot of new artists are coming through and entering the scene. If you look around the music-sharing sites- SoundCloud, BandCamp etc.- then one has ample choice and selection: anything the avid listener desires can be found. Although the business of making music is relatively simplistic, it does not mean that this will translate into success or recognition- it can be a disillusioning and disheartening prospect. I have a huge amount of respect for anybody able to transition the barrier between conception and production: those that turn their ideas into fully fledged cuts. Adam Hume is someone I have been made aware of over the last couple of months. My first taste of Hume came via his work with Shiftin’ Shade (Leeds-based artist Darren Christopher Pereira). Pereira’s Electro-Swing alter-ego is something of a delightful rarity: good-natured and kind-hearted messages are wrapped up in delirious Swing kick; lashings of brass, electronics (and sounds of the ’30s and ’40s) come through in his music- marking him out as one of the most original and striking artists on the scene. Hume leant his voice to tracks Speakeasy Suzy, Shy Street Swing Club *Live Bootleg Version* (from The Gramophone Gang E.P.) and Cabaret Du Ciel. Backed by vintage film soundbites, leaky trumpets and mesmeric blasts of danceable bliss, Hume’s smooth and emotive voice crooned, struck and seduced throughout. Being impressed with his credentials, I was excited to see what he could offer on his debut E.P., Horizons and Hurricanes. Hume has a clear affection and dedication towards music, and has been plying and working hard to get his music together. There are many acts that arrive in music and are prepared to do the bare-minimum; there are those that put in the hard graft (and do not get their due)- the imbalance and injustice can be quite galling and frightening. Hume is in his early stages, yet has ambition and plenty of urgency to his music. The Leeds-based 22-year-old has a determination that will see rewards come his way: the initial signs are very promising indeed.
For those new to Hume, there are two acts that come to mind: OneRepublic and You Me at Six. Elements of each come into his music (Hume is a fan of OneRepublic especially), yet there is no blatant parody or mimicry. Like the Colorado Springs quintet, Hume incorporates aspects of OneRepublic’s Pop-Rock/Alt.-Rock into his palette- but comes across as a bolder and more fully rounded representation. One of the slight criticisms reviewers had about OneRepublic’s last L.P. (Native), is that it was a little dry and flavourless- compared to their previous work at least. Frontman Ryan Tedder is amongst one of the most important modern-day songwriters (having defined and shaped current Pop sensibilities and directions) and is still capable of surprising. Having listened to Native, it is filled with dense themes, rich sounds and plenty of depth and joy- there are the odd few fillers, yet nothing that deserves any derision. Hume has a similar sense of emotional resonance and catchiness; he is adept at weaving together stunning hooks and tender emotion. Anyone enlivened by albums such as Native and Waking Up (OneRepublic’s sophomore effort), should investigate Hume. Alternative-Rock strands- You Me at Six, Bastille- make their presence felt within Horizons and Hurricanes, yet one should enter with a clear and receptive mind. Hume’s work with Shiftin’ Shade showcased just how versatile and potent his voice is (and can be); meaning his E.P. is a multifarious and surprising set of tracks: music that everyone should seek out and study.
The first taste of the E.P. arrives in the form of Unbreakable. A brief (but beautiful) piano coda brings the song to your ears with romantic pride- it begins urgently (Morse Code-like in its deployment) before opening up into a flourish. Early events introduce the song’s heroine: she has dreams of a perfect wedding and a white dress. Hume’s voice is soft and deep as he lets the story unfold- the track’s subject “didn’t see the hurricane, twirling on the horizon“. The driving and vivid storyline swirls images in your mind: by the 1:00 mark, our heroine has lost all she planned; her dreams have been disjointed and shattered- the life she imagined has dissipated. Hume never lets his voice soar needlessly: it is measured, tender- displaying some sympathy in its tones- and filled with conviction. Unbreakable‘s lyrics mix the emotional sparse with simplistic beauty: our heroine’s heart is broken beyond surgical repair; the tears are streaming forth. Whether Hume is recalling events from his own life (or that of a friend) I am not certain, yet the scenery and wordplay paint a lot of detail and evocativeness. Even though our heroine has juggled pieces “carelessly“, you get the sense that there may be redemption in the future- there is never any judgement or condemnation. Backing a tale of disillusionment and dethronement, is the beautiful and elegant piano line: guitar threads and rushes of strings inject passion and potency, yet it is that piano sound that provides the biggest punch. There are signs of OneRepublic in the song’s melody and story: Hume displays character and flavour; heart and subtlety. Whereas the U.S. five-piece achieve their results with big hooks (as opposed to subtly and softness), Hume does not come across as static or rank-and-file: there is a soulfulness and heart-wrenching quality that lifts his songs beyond that of his contemporaries. The emotive coda of “You can’t unbreak what you broke” is perhaps the song’s crowning touch: it enforces the song’s message, and sees our hero’s voice mutate, hold and soar- oddly employing swathes of Matt Bellamy and Neil Finn within the transmogrification. The composition is ever-changing and evolving: at the start it was slowed and composed; it sways and floats towards the middle- before becoming emphatic and fully charged towards the conclusion. It is Hume’s voice (and words) that do the bidding- the composition is effective and gorgeous, yet never encroaches (and puts you in the picture directly): there is no sense that this is a pared-down, radio-lite vagary. Opening the E.P. in impressive and superbly crafted, Unbreakable is a song sung with intuition and from the gut- burnished, resonant and captivated. Driving piano-driven Pop-Rock is a common staple in music- from mainstays like Coldplay through a gambit of newbies- yet Hume personality and stellar songwriting makes songs like Holding On essential, new and re-appropriating. Working with a reliably yearning piano parable, Hume’s voice is contemplative and deep: U.S. Soul and Country tones come through (oddly, once more, parts Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell present themselves when Hume allows gravel and growl to come to the fore). Our hero is “counting constellations“; vacant and dreaming in his own space, he is trying to “take my mind off of this“. Apparitions and familiar figures present themselves in the starry sky; Hume cannot dismiss what he sees- his voice rises and crackles with passion. Stylistically, Holding On is more introverted and personal then the E.P.’s opener: love is being looked at, but our hero puts himself under the spotlight. Emphatic and rampant piano notes score words of regret and longing: Hume longs for and remembers a bygone love; someone whom he desires to be with- his soul is colder without her. There is exploration and self-examination throughout the track; plenty of honesty and hopefulness. Our hero admits to having delusional dreams, yet never gives up on his goal: to have his sweetheart with him. The vocal is slick, soulful and unctuous (in a good way): Hume goes from a whispered sadness to a hot-bloodied cry. Crescendo and desire make the song a heartfelt triumph: there are touches of mainstream acts and Pop in places, but it is Hume’s distinctive and strong vocal that transcend expectations- the lyrics and composition remain heartfelt and stirringly earnest. Till My Heart Stops Beating picks up from its predecessor (the initial vocal has a similar feel, pace and tone)- Hume is surveying a central figure, and in cautious mood. His heroine is “chasing pavement, just around the corner“; the song’s ideals are more positive and heart-racing (as opposed to saddened)- Hume is pursuing a spellbinding Siren. Unlike a lot of modern-day songs and artists (that play similar music), there is warmth and playfulness here; it is not dogged or diligent- plenty of life and colour bursts through. Hume is not going to stop running red lights: he is searching for his role model, day and night. Lyrics mix directness with hyperbole (hostile deserts and untold forces will not slow our hero), yet it all adds to the mood: due to the conviction and passion in the vocal, the words seem genuine and true. Multi-track vocal lines add a choral effect to proceedings; graceful and nimble falsetto entwine with bare-chested tenor- to create a dizzying effect that drives the song forward. There is catchiness and memorable refrains throughout (“till the flames come crashing down” is the finest): Hume’s peers may succumb to vague quivering and anodyne predictability, yet Till My Heart Stops Beating has such mobility that it does what a Pop-Rock ballad should do: it gets inside your head. The penultimate number (a bonus cut) is Jigsaws. Whereas the E.P.’s opening trio of numbers are enforced by piano- here guitar is at the forefront (it is springing and sprightly). Hume sees his desire: hazel-eyed and brown-haired, she is causing him to question and second-guess. Our hero wonders whether he is chasing shadows; he has a confession: he didn’t mean to fall so far (in love). An optimistic and bubbling compositon- tied to a seductive and tender melody- once more ties to layered vocals: sweet-scented highs smoke alongside deep-voiced utterings. A sense of teenage innocence and chase comes through with charm: nightclubs and dank surroundings are replaced with chili fries and furtive glances- there is an American sensibility that shines through in the words. In spite of some romantic cat-and-mouse, Hume offers self-examination: there is a breeziness and a sense of the redemptive that comes through- never does the song trip off the sunshine path. By the track’s dying moments, you can imagine Hume pounding on: you sense he is not going to let go of his feelings; as well as his heroine. Bridges for Burning is Hume’s most recognised- and to this moment, most-listened-to track- and completes the E.P. in style. A lot of commentators have highlighted how it is ready-made for radio: there is a quality and heartbeat that could see it feature on BBC Radio Two– as well as smaller, non-commercial stations. The track essentially draws everything together and emphasises the hallmarks: sweeping and touching harmonies, clean sound; brilliant and detailed composition as well as an original and itinerant soul. Train lines and far-off destinations and used as metaphors for love’s breakdown and personal derailment. Hume summons flashbacks and less-than-fond memories: our hero has no “safety car” as a ensconcement. Trapped in Memory Lane, he is being driven mad by his scenario: absolution and resolve is pined for. The most memorable aspect of Bridges for Burning is the vocal and production: the latter is clean (but not overly polished); the former is pure, aching and dripping with emotion- the vocal harmonies augment and emphasise the sense of tension. It seems that respite is not forthcoming: our hero enters Round Two; floored “straight to the mat“- love’s sucker punch has left its scars. The song’s anonymous (yet alluring) femme fatale is leaving Hume dumbstruck by the curvatures of her contours: her slanted smile holds dark prophesy- as she walks out of the door, our hero is bereft.
Horizons and Hurricanes is a five-track E.P. abound with beauty and power. Hume manages to make his lyrics straight-forward but highly effective: there are similarities with other Pop-Rock acts (and their style), yet it is Hume’s individuality and conviction that makes everything sound elementary and must-hear. Themes deal with various aspects of love: a lot of time our hero is on the losing end, yet there is redemptive hope and flirtatious potential within. Aside from the emotive overtures and epicness of the closing number, the quartet of proceeding tracks never seem drained or wracked: Hume’s voice remains buoyant and optimistic- even when he is singing about the greatest of losses. Being inspired by the likes of OneRepublic, it is inevitable that some of their melodic gifts and catchy choruses sneak in: our hero’s own versions will resonate harder with new listeners. One of the worst things you can say about music/a song, is that is lacks soul and character: many contemporaries portray dull-as-dishwater motifs and seem almost anodyne and mechanical. Hume’s strong and striking personality makes his music such a force of emotion: the E.P.’s five tracks are solid enough to recruit even the most die-hard Hard Rock/Metal aficionados. The elliptical, gorgeous (yet unimposing) compositions add layers of tears and smile to the music: they parabond beautifully with Hume’s voice, and bring vivid life to his words. Kudos must be paid to the production throughout Horizons and Hurricanes: it is never too polished or over-produced, yet makes sure that notes and lyrics are not sucked into the machine- allowing proceedings to come across as raw yet crystal-clear. I would offer an addendum- to anyone thinking of checking out the E.P.- which would be: clear your mind and preconceptions. It is all-too-easy to compare Artist A with Established Artist B: it not only naturally clouds your judgements, but limits your expectations. Hume’s voice, style and potency are home-grown and as a result of study and hard work: it means that the most effort and attention to detail is paid to each track. Having heard (recently) a lot of U.S. Folk and Indie-filled sets, it is nice to hear a fresh and vibrant U.K.-based talent: one whom mixes current-day Pop-Rock with latter-day Indie and U.S. influence. As I said, you should always judge an artist upon their own merits- few would argue (against the fact) that Horizons and Hurricanes is a confident and self-assured opening salvo. Hume is proud of what he has acheived- as are those that have listened to it- and I hope this belief will lead to future releases. It is rare to hear someone enter a busy and competitive Pop-Rock/Indie market and manage to side-step the natural folly: get buried in the Coldplay-cum-The Fray complacency quagmire. With that voice; that sense of direction- as well a unique core- it will be interesting to see where Hume heads next.
I have mentioned how hard it is to gain satisfaction and equality in music- obtaining distinction and patronage can be as hard as anything you can possible imagine. For me (and my music), I feel that it will be a few years before anything concrete makes its mark- financial issues and upheaval have delayed proceedings somewhat- yet the determination is always there. I think that is what is so appealing about music: it offers escape and chance for expression, but also allows you to channel your thoughts and inner troubles into something artistic and beautiful. There is a catharsis and therapeutic wonder that music offers: anyone that has a voice and a clear identity is welcomed and provided a platform. I always love stumbling across something new and great, yet I have a nagging worry in the back of my mind: are great and hard-working acts getting the attention and adulation they deserve? The short answer is ‘no‘- there is an imbalance and unfairness that seems ineradicable and hostile. It is no surprise, I suppose: there are simply so many new musicians coming through, that it is incredibly unlikely all of them will receive a fair hearing. What you do need- in order to succeed and get ahead of the crowd- is a clear and distinct sound; a dedicated passion and love- as well as a never-say-die attitude. Hume is a young and eager musician that has already cracked the first two points- one suspects that the third is already there as well. I have mentioned the likes of OneRepublic and You Me at Six (as comparisons) yet they act as mere foundations: Hume’s songs have such a distinct and incomparable personality and identity: making everything personal and purposeful. Horizons and Hurricanes is a collection not relegated to slender appeal: the energy, emotion and memorability is designed for the masses- it is music for everybody’s enjoyment. When listening to the E.P., I got a clear sense of ambition and drive: Hume knows where he wants to go, and intends on making music for some time to come. One of the most impressive things you can say about a new musician is their adaptability and work rate (I touched on this when reviewing Clara Engel). Hume’s voice is equally at home and authoritative when scoring scenes of jazz club dance-offs; effortless when singing about romancing and seducing shy speakeasy heroines- his efforts with Shiftin’ Shade marked him out as a genuine and impassioned Swing voice (I hope their collaborations continue for a long time). Stepping away from these parables- and going it alone- Hume seems equally comfortable in the Pop Rock/Indie arena: there is a naturalness and instinct that makes the E.P. so stirring and repeatable. There is plenty of romance, yearning and introverted questioning on Horizons and Hurricanes: soulfulness and stadium-sized heartbreak are all in check. I am confident that Hume’s future will be busy and prosperous- he has already covered a lot of ground over the last couple of months alone. His debut E.P. will appeal to anyone that looks for melodic flow, catchy choruses and sing-along charm; beauty and yearning are waiting to be discovered- if you are more familiarised with heavy sounds or other genres, it would remiss to ignore it. There are a lot of current artists whose appeal is niche and limited: their music is incapable of transcending party lines and drawing in undecided voters. Hume ubiquitous messages and fascinating songwriting should be enjoyed by everyone- it is free on SoundCloud, so why the hell would you not check it out?! Having spoken with both Hume and Pereira recently, I know that they are both ambitious and motivated artists: I am sure we will hear more hook-ups between Hume and Shiftin’ Shade- each song they collaborate on is compelling and filled with happiness. Our hero is only 22, so he will probably not be thinking too far ahead, yet it seems there is a huge market out there. He is based in Yorkshire at the moment, but I wonder whether ideas of relocating to London are in his thoughts: venues, clubs, audiences and labels are likely to be waiting- although a nomadic life may seem a little disorienting to him right now. There is such a force of repression and fatigue when noble musicians try to make their mark- the strife of getting representation is one of the biggest headaches- and it often stems down to three factors: financial limitations, finding a large and dedicated audience and distinguishing themselves (from what other musicians are doing). Hume has already developed and stamped out an uncommon voice; his work ethic and passion will (hopefully) see him obtain financial stability- in order to keep making music- but the third issue remains: getting the people into your tent. On the evidence of Horizons and Hurricanes‘ gems and stunning avenues, Hume should be pleased of what he has acheived- and keep the momentum coming. Positive reviews and feedback is already coming in (for the E.P.), and I am sure a year from now, his fan base will be large and impressive- and more music with be forthcoming. Hume’s debut E.P. contains smile, punch, potency; beauty, anthemics and infectious hooks and melodies- stuffed with nuance and style. When you are seeking out music to investigate and admire…
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