Hamish Hawk & The New Outfit – From Zero to One (3 stars)

Hamish Hawk & The New Outfit - From Zero to One

The Scottish folk darling evokes maturity and versatility beyond his years

Performing regularly around Scotland with the likes of King Creosote, James Yorkston and Withered Hand, Hamish Hawk has gradually established himself as one of the newer darlings of the Scottish contemporary music scene. The folk troubadour's warm baritone vocals lend the perfect backdrop to his sharp and reflective storytelling, and over the years, Hawk has successfully managed to hone this pairing.

With his four-piece backing band the New Outfit in tow, From Zero to One signifies a step forward in his mastery as a songwriter, with sparkling arrangements and a mature sensitivity taking centre stage. In tracks like the opener 'Nomad', Hawk allows the buoyancy of his melody to create a confident yet frantic feel. Elsewhere, there's a clear contrasting sense of hushed nostalgia and quiet contemplation, such as on 'Catherine Opens a Window' and the crooning and muted 'Snuff'.

'Goldenacre' is a brilliant example of his anecdotal wit, while the gentle lullaby-like 'Blueprints' underlines Hawk's honeyed vocals, with its delicate, unobtrusive theme. The title track is a definite highlight, introspective and simple in its instrumentation, closing the record with a hint of melancholia that is wistful and, at times, moving.

Ultimately, the Edinburgh songwriter's new album speaks of a versatility that is often more easily discernible in musicians with a far more extensive back catalogue. But in From Zero to One, we see him amp up the charisma and exuberance in his delivery, along with the smart lyricism previously heard on his debut Aznavour and on the Swannanoa EP. Through ten tracks of poetic and vivid snapshots, we're invited to enjoy both the magic and normalcy of Hamish Hawk's narrative adventures, as well as the cinematic landscape he manages to paint through words and melody.

Out now on Epifo Music

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