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Jo Hamilton - Gown

  by Lisa Torem

published: 27 / 6 / 2009

Jo Hamilton - Gown
Label: Poseidon Records
Format: CD


Almost uncategorical, whirlwinding debut album from much-travelled Scottish singer and multi-instrumentalist, Jo Hamilton

World-traveller Jo Hamilton, singer and multi-instrumentalist , has lived in Kuwait, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and her native Scotland. Her artistry has been likened to Regina Spektor, Kate Bush and Annie Lennox. Hamilton’s debut, 'Gown', seems to waver between the embracingly outstretched arms of the Hindu God Ganesh, Eastern mysticism and Bollywood enthuse. This eleven track CD of Hamilton’s original music, mixed and produced by Jon Cotton, does exemplify what I think it has set out to achieve. It is an elegant whirlwind of colour, imagery and imaginative musical choreography drawing from the influence of world music. Unorthodox and unusual instruments appear on various tracks – wine glasses, that Indonesian staple: the Gamelan, appalachian dulcimer and - holy cow – even brazil nuts! The opener, 'Exist', has Hamilton unveiling a breathy delivery. A recapitulated lyric from it, "I’m drowning”, appears in 'Pick Me Up' which is the only track I would say recalls R & B. Here, the aforementioned dulcimer is paired with violin for an extra pungent repast. 'There It Is' is a warm, rosy ballad and it’s here that David Picking adds that bouquet-ish splash of flavour with the wine glasses and brazil nuts. The optimistic “looking ahead to what’s around the corner” syncs up well, too. 'How Beautiful' features the Enigma Quartet but is misleading as it’s a sombre melody with uber-positive lyrics. 'Deeper (Glorious)' also belongs in that ambiguous “camp” – however, McGuire/Carter channel highly-energizing stealth and Livermore and Happernik convey a discordant elegance through production nuance. Hamilton’s angelic voice crescendos blissfully as it closes. Nordic rumblings listed under instrumentation? Why, not? 'Paradise' recalls the warmth of Norah Jones and Hamilton’s voice embues great emotion. The result is a pretty, hand-holding samba. The quiet doesn’t last, however, as the teasing cacaphony of saxes and clarinets with pop-scat phrase play out during 'All in Adoration'. For something completely different, 'Liathach' is a love song cloaked in an undulating confessional piano-driven ballad with cunning lyrics like, “wishful thinking – there’s more than that..” Hamilton’s extensive field recordings - which she cultivated in Cambodia - yielded the sensorial lyrics depicting the landscape she discovered in 'Mekong' - from “lush green brushes” and “there are houses floating” to “everything lives on the river I speed down.” “Snow is melting away from here, climbs the mountains and disappears” and “lime-green, black-orange and ruby-red” then culminates in 'Winter is Over'. It is set to a Brechtian, carnival-like arrangement. This is another, almost uncategorical mood piece. The closer, 'Think of Me' underscores the line, “think of me when the light is fading.” The long-awaited, celestial wine glasses along with piano and music box add sheer, unpredictable whimsy. 'Gown' is a lovely ensemble effort. It’s a little difficult to exactly know in which frame this picture should be hammered to the wall. But, it’s a joyous picture, nevertheless.

Track Listing:-
1 Exist (Beyond My Wildest Dreams)
2 Pick Me Up
3 There It Is
4 How Beautiful
5 Deeper (Glorious)
6 Paradise
7 All In Adoration
8 Liathach
9 Mekong Song
10 Winter Is Over
11 Think Of Me

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Interview (2009)
Jo Hamilton - Interview
Scottish singer-songwriter and instrumentalist Jo Hamilton has spent much of her life travelling the globe. She speaks to Lisa Torem about the influences and experiences that have lead to her releasing her debut album, 'Gown'

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Think of Me (2010)
Lyrically optimistic and ethereal-sounding download only single from Scottish singer-songwriter Jo Hamilton, the latest from her 'Gown' album

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