A local singer/songwriter posts a video laying on his bed with his knees up, cradling his baby daughter as he sings a ditty, “welcome to the family.” It’s an abundance of heart-warming sentiments alone, a blissful moment of parental pride enough, as she watches him and listens intently, without the ending, where she holds out her arm to mimic her Dad strumming on the ukulele.
The singer is Jamie R Hawkins, whose song “as Big as You,” touched me personally. Yanking on my heartstrings it recalls a memory which covets the childhood desire to be as momentous and “big” as one’s father, and ponders if the steps needed by adulthood to attain that goal are reachable. It bought a tear to my eye, having lost my Dad last October, I had to stop to collect myself.
Because while his customary acoustic folk-rock is filled with kitchen-sink and commonplace themes, through observations and ruminations of personal experience, Jamie’s adroit writing hoists him above his peers and has the ability to drive emotional responses of the everyman’s problems.
There’s nothing so complicated to riddle the mind, there is no political standpoint, but a flow of ingenious social commentary and unambiguous authenticities. Particularly when “Capacity to Change” opens with “Denial,” which rinses the fluffy sentiments and inane metaphors of your average love song, and moves swiftly on to the title track, which coveys a bit like counselling, but brut honesty reproaches with the brilliant Come Undone. It’s here where you really begin to pick at the lyrics, cleverly intertwined observations, palling Robbie Williams’ Angels by comparison.
The two EPs he sent me to review are so overdue, it’s gotten a bit embarrassing. Sorry mate, I’ve only poor excuses, save I’d been meaning to, but every time I listen I find something new in them; that’s Jamie’s music, it grows on you.
Prolifically gigging, it’s easy to see Jamie playing in a pub somewhere locally, but in that environment it’s even easier, I feel, to chat, mosey around and not take in the absolute brilliance of his lyrics. This is why I strongly advise, if you buy just one CD of a singer doing the rounds locally, make it a Jamie Hawkins one.
So, the aforementioned Capacity to Change was released in 2016, and there’s a latter, “The Bitter End,” recorded the subsequent year. Jamie is very much a DIY man, both recordings are raw and as homemade as your nan’s apple pies, and you recollect how good they tasted? I wanted to ask him if he had a formula for writing, so at Saddleback he explained it’s not as ordered as that, it just flows; the sign of a great writer, not that I would know!
There’s a thing, I’m finding it difficult to govern the words necessary here, to do Jamie’s song writing justice, you just have to listen! The stirring craving of tobacco addiction is defined significantly in “Nicotine,” the unpretentious, darker side resolves of performing artists behind the curtains bolts the door of honesty wide in “The Show of Me,” and “The Bitter End,” conjures the ideal speech for a step-child you know you’d never articulate under the pressure of the moment, but is a glorious sentiment nonetheless.
The deeper you dig with both these EPs, but particularly the matured and definite Bitter End, undoubtedly the better of the two, and proof Jamie continues to progress, the more you uncover about the man, about the human condition, and perhaps, yourself.
So while he may knock out a blinding cover in the pub where you see him, take the time to heed the astounding wordsmanship of Jamie R Hawkins, and with the combination of skilled guitar and gruff vocals, know he’s capable of doing what the most accomplished and renowned musicians, from Guthire to Springsteen did, as Paul Simon can, and many other greats that have trod in those shoes, they evoke emotion on a personal level, identify the mood and moment locally, and bring to it a story that fits.
I kid you not, Jamie has that skill level, pushing new benchmarks and pride in our local music scene, nip down to Vinyl Realm, or buy these EPs online here.