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Michael Andrews - Hand On String

Michael Andrews, Hand On String

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

MICHAEL Andrews is best known as the composer of contemporary film soundtracks such as Me And You And Everyone We Know, Orange County and Donnie Darko.

He is, of course, the artist responsible for the much celebrated (and deservedly so) re-arrangement of the Tears For Fears classic Mad World.

Yet this LA-based composer is also a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and producer. And he’s now put together a collection of songs to form the album Hand On String.

Recorded at his purpose-built home studio, the album offers a small window into his creative secret garden, exposing a world of whirling soundscapes, dancing guitar lines and mostly charming songs.

There’s definitely an offbeat sensibility surrounding many of them that’s perfectly in keeping with some of the more surreal movies he’s been asked to score (Donnie Darko among them).

But there’s also a shrewd ear for a keen melody, as evidenced by former single Orange Meet Lemon and title track Hand On String.

The majority of the songs are built around simple acoustic guitar licks and a tender, aching vocal style.

When it works, they can provide strange little moments of magic. Orange Meet Lemon contains quite a warm glow and a retro style that’s difficult not to enjoy.

While Sweeping, Cleaning And Organizing is an off-kilter collection of hip beats and acoustic strums that chart very Jim Noir-ish territory (with a little of Lemon Jelly’s quirkiness thrown in). It’s an instrumental that could easily find its way onto the soundtrack of another quirky indie romantic comedy.

It’s nicely counter-balanced by the more pensive Love Is Tired, which takes a more sombre turn in keeping with the kind of darkness that surrounded his Mad World re-interpretation.

Hello Lemon is another favourite, containing some breezy melodies and some endearing vocal layering. It’s much more hopeful than Love Is Tired and seeks to find the positives in a world that’s currently producing a lot of negatives.

And Before The Echo is an irresistible little charmer that could easily find its way onto a Zach Braff hand-picked soundtrack, such is the dreamy quality associated with one of his montage sequences.

Elsewhere, Just A Thought finds Andrews almost mimicking early Pink Floyd territory vocally, while achingly poignant final track, Something Already Happened ends things on an extremely pensive note (dispensing with guitars in favour of a melancholy piano). It once again highlights Andrews’ cinematic roots and his ability to create extremely emotional mood music.

Hand On String may be a little too leftfield for mainstream tastes and it’s a little on the slow side at times, but for those prepared to enter Andrews’ curious little world there’s plenty to explore and sometimes savour.

Download picks: Orange Meet Lemon, Sweeping, Cleaning and Organizing, Hand on String, Hello Lemon, Before The Echo

Track listing:

  1. Something Already Happened Again
  2. Tracings
  3. Just A Thought
  4. Orange Meet Lemon
  5. See Me Plain
  6. Sweeping, Cleaning And Organizing
  7. Love Is Tired
  8. Hand On String
  9. Hello Lemon
  10. Through The Fog
  11. Before The Echo
  12. Something Already Happened