Julie Hawk - Julie Hawk EP (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
IRISH singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Julie Hawk releases her eponymous new EP and duly impresses with her distinct vocals and meticulous style.
Hawk has, for some time, been pulling up the London unsigned scene by its roots thanks to her dynamic vocal style and ethereal lyrics.
Her ornate finger-picking guitar style lends a constant heartbeat to her soaring vocals, echoing artists such as Kate Bush and Joanna Newsom.
While her lyrics are rich with imagery of life and decay, of light and dark, leaving the listener suspended in Julie’s world – it should come as no surprise to find a Smiths track covered as the final offering on the EP given some of the shared lyrical sensibilities.
That said, Hawk very much has her own style and is not afraid to let songs linger. A track like The West, for instance, clocks in at a little over six minutes and is rife with tempo changes. It’s intricately layered and thoughtfully composed, showcasing both the beautiful harmony in Hawk’s vocals as well as a little fragility.
She’s at her best, though, on moments like melancholy lead offering The Value of Gold, which combines some lovely finger-picked acoustics with an ethereal-tinged vocal reminiscent of Bjork. The chorus has a haunting quality too that’s difficult to ignore.
Maps, meanwhile, has a warmer instrumental vibe, with some breezy folk licks stemming from the guitar, and a generally breezier vocal to warm you.
And Age in Years has an almost folk-rock vibe, with some grittier hooks to augment another lovely vocal.
Her Smiths cover, This Charming Man, is virtually unrecognisable for long periods… the indie roots stripped completely away to give rise to a sad, fragile, altogether new incarnation that really draws out the loneliness and insecurity of the lyrics. Under Hawk’s vocal, however, it also disarms… much like the EP as a whole.
For those wanting to know more, Hawk grew up in an eclectic musical household in the rain-choked West of Ireland, listening to everything from Bob Dylan to Arvo Pärt.
She took up piano at age five, followed by fiddle and later guitar, all the while singing in as many styles as she could mimic. The first fruits of that dedication to her craft are now beginning to show in impressive fashion.
Download picks: The Value of Gold, Maps, Age in Years, This Charming Man