Hawksley Workman
Treeful of Starling


3.0
good

Review

by Old Uncle Al USER (86 Reviews)
March 12th, 2006 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist


First a ballad man, then a punkish-looking alternative boy with aviators, and now... a guy who sounds like he's sitting in an english garden with a toy piano and little flower people dancing around the little table that Hawksley is sitting at and drinking tea. Strange as it may sound, that's pretty much the only description of his new album Treeful of Starling. For this album, Hawksley put down his electric guitar and tight clothes and picked up an acoustic guitar and piano, which are really the only musical occupants of this cd.

This cd has nine songs. Nine. (Read: Not enjoyable), and some of them are just extremely hard to listen to, especially the ones where he's using a very unpowerful voice and little kiddy piano chords, which equals an almost childlike point. One such songs is Hey Hey Hey (My Little Beauties). Though the song reaches only about 3:10, it seems so much longer, and you can just picture the little childeren doing Ring-around-the-Rosie to this annoying disaster. Kiddy as it may be, Hawksley unfortunately sounds like a severe, er, romantically unstable guy with a few, um, women. But the chorus helps save this piece, with a good vocal performance, and, again (but barely noticable) piano. This really drags down the album.You and the Candles is something that belongs in an 1800's british ballroom. Unfortunate. That is, until, the drums come in, and Hawksley does a decent vocal job. Strings are added, and can even give you a tug at your hearstrings. Unfortunately, the song returns back to it's original premise: boring piano and ballroom-esque vocals. A decent song, but nothing to get excited about. Really, there's not that much bad about the album, but it gets supremely stale after a while, with the constant piano.

There are a few very good parts of the album. All the rest of the songs are quite enjoyable, often sporting acoustic guitars and rather enjoyable (gasp!) piano, and some very good vocal performances from Hawksley. The best of them would have to be It's A Long Life To Always Be Longing, which has a sole acoustic guitar and a rather dark atmosphere. Trudging drums and accompanying piano. The best part of the album is that it's a very beautifully orhcestrated piece that takes break from the rest of the album, which is rather upbeat. The vocals make an appearance, and they're even sadder than the music. Something to pay attention to, since it's over too soon and it's back to upbeat songs with little or no emotion. A Moth is Not a Butterfly is the first song on the cd, which represents the cd very good, and gives you an impressive first impression. Another fairly emotional piece, featuring only a piano and some drums, which echoes through pretty much every song. Good vocal performances and metaphors make this song attention-worthy. The next best part of the album is the finale Ice Age is another emotional piece. With sad chords and acceptable lyrics about... learning about the ice age, but you get a rather different premise from it, as you think that the character he's talking about is getting swallowed by it. A very good instrument performance, an array of horns and drums and defintely the most impressive overall performance on the album, which helps rejuvenate the poor parts of the album

Overall
The best part of the album has to be the dark spots. Though only three out of nine, the dark parts are the most intellectually stimulating and enjoyable. The worst part about the album is obvious: some songs are just horrible, boring and repetetive. Something that Hawksley really hasn't done before. Sure, it's a little step back for his career, seeing as a large portion of his Lover/Fighter audience really wouldn't like this, but otherwise a very good effort.


Thanks for reading,
AV8RS



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user ratings (9)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Two-Headed Boy
March 12th 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

...any comments?

Zebra
Moderator
March 12th 2006


2647 Comments


Here's a comment.
Nice review as usual, I dig your style. I've heard a few good things about this album, but have yet to check it out. Judging from your review it doesn't look like I'd like this album anyways.

Two-Headed Boy
March 12th 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks, bro.

AlienEater
March 12th 2006


716 Comments


He picked up a piano? I find that a little hard to believe.

Two-Headed Boy
March 12th 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Unfortunate, but true my friend.

pulseczar
March 12th 2006


2385 Comments


Good review, one of your better ones. I don't like anything I've heard by this guy very much, so I doubt I'll be checking this out.

Get rid of the percentage and letter grades though, those are just pointless and can be confusing for people who live in other places.

Storm In A Teacup
March 12th 2006


22087 Comments


You are certainly getting better.

tom79
March 12th 2006


3587 Comments


Niiice Review AV8Rs, gets my vote.
As for Hawlsley Workman's music, from what i've heard, its alright.

Digging: Van Morrison - Saint Dominic's Preview

fagbot
December 28th 2006


8 Comments


i disagree, this as an amazing album leaning towards the hint that its simplicity is teh key to its wonder. and for teh lyrics, well sure a couple songs like hey hey hey are extremely weak and meaningless. one that you bashed (you and the candles) has some of teh darkest and most moving words of hawksleys career. sorry, but i would have to give this album a 4 out of 5 and also i will add that lover/fighter although great, was the worst album by hawksley thus far, maybe close to almost a full moon. it was too mainstream and unoriginal, but thats what happens to the rockstar now and then, but he successfully returned to his creative roots in this not-quite-a-masterpiece, treeful of starling

thecity
February 22nd 2007


9 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Quite a sad and uninformed review, i must say.

davecox
September 25th 2007


1 Comments


thecity and fagbot finally put you in your place. It's good to see some people can still understand music. Personally, I wouldn't listen to the album very often, but your review misses the strongest point of Hawksley's music: his lyrics. You speak of the "dark spots", but you're quite obviously and ignorantly directing this term towards the music itself. "Too much piano" isn't a criticism. You need to probe deeper. Try to speak of influences, compare the album to his other work and other artists who have made or who are making similar music. A review of music is a statement of the reviewer's understanding of the artist as well as a critique of the album itself. Although, I'm sure you've come a long way in the past year and a half, and I assume you'll never read this. Hopefully, you care about the message as well as the music now. In Workman's music, it is of equal importance.This Message Edited On 09.25.07

fowler
November 11th 2007


1 Comments


Hmm where to begin.

Don't bash music for the way someone looks, thats just stupid.
Positive wording would have been eclectic or at worst unfocused.
Ok the guys is a bit eccentric so what. This album is kick ass.


However this album is focused and maintains an earthy sound, that complements the environmental / economic themes throughout this album.

The lyrics and meaningful and interesting. Listen to "Hey hey hey (my little beauties"

"One certainty of living is that we are going to die why not stand in ah of it instead asking why"

Whats up with the criticisms on the piano.

Its actually refreshing to hear music with different instruments.
We have gone through an extended period of guitar rock, piano's are long overdue.

This album is an example of what artists can achieve when they're not trying to cash in on mainstream music.

Hawksley actually commented in an interview that his past albums were an attempt to follow the mainstream. However on Treeful of Starling was an album based on what he wanted to write.

Anyway thats my opinion.








mothergoose
March 29th 2009


308 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

There are just aspects of this review that I don't understand. "This cd has nine songs. Nine. (Read: Not enjoyable)," - the fact that it has 9 songs is not enjoyable? Is that too many? Too few? Are the 9 on it just not enjoyable to you? It doesn't seem like a statement worth making in the review without some further explanation. You repeatedly mention children, and while that's fine as he does use a "child friendly" voice and the piano is quite simple, there are reasons for that. This was a raw, simple, and honest album... that was the point of the plunky piano chords and sing-song lyricism of a lot of the songs. But the lyrics, which you didn't touch on at all, reveal a lot of the depth of this album. Another confusing bit: "Hawksley unfortunately sounds like a severe, er, romantically unstable guy with a few, um, women." - what? No vote from me on this review.



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