by Sam Hawksley
Sam Hawksley is unquestionably one of Australian music’s best-kept secrets. If you’ve never heard of Sam Hawksley before, prepare yourself for something very special and unique as this record is set to change everything.
A true independent solo artist in every way imaginable, Sam and his songs have spent the past few years slowly building a loyal audience of life-long Sam Hawksley converts across Australia and North America, one gig at a time, sometimes literally house to house.
With this awesome new album, Sam takes his music and career all to another level.
Sam Hawksley’s new self-titled album is a distinctive and diverse collection of lilting songs, immediate and regularly intimate, occasionally heart-broken but more often joyous and full of life. It’s an uplifting showcase of Sam’s beautiful and gentle songwriting approach, delivered in his always soothing vocal style and backed by world-class musicianship.
Sam Hawksley is the artist’s fourth collection of new songs since the release of his solo debut, On Any Other Day, back in 2003, which was followed by 2005’s Anything You Want and then last year’s critically-acclaimed Broken Hearts Like Records.
The new album features guest appearances by a rather extraordinary collection of other esteemed Australian talent, including the legendary Don Walker [who lends his brilliant piano playing skills to the new album’s opener, “I Don’t Need No More”], Shane Nicholson [who sings backing vocals on “You Still Have Your Way With Me”] and The Flood’s Kevin Bennett [who co-wrote one of the album’s songs, “Come Tomorrow”, as well as providing backing vocals on the dreamy “No Time For The Rain”]. As always, Sam is also backed by his long-time collaborators, Glenn Wilson on drums and producer Matt Fell on a wide array of instruments.
How does an artist so relatively unknown to the mainstream draw on such established talent? Well, Sam is the definition of what you would call a musician’s musician.
A few years back, for instance, Keith Urban by chance heard Sam’s debut album on a car stereo and immediately tracked him down to sign him up as the opening act for his 2005 Australian tour.
Aside from the high points and quieter moments that have defined his solo career thus far, Sam has forged a highly-successful parallel career as an in-demand session musician. It means that even if you can’t sing a Sam Hawksley original off the top of your head, you’d recognise his work as a muso as soon as it’s pointed out.
A gifted guitarist and gun-for-hire, Sam has performed and recorded with a variable who’s-who of the Australian music scene, a list that includes the likes of The Whitlams, John Farnham, Adam Brand, Wendy Matthews, Vanessa Amorosi, Richard Clapton, and many, many more.
His relationship with Don Walker is a classic example of the sort of unique and close partnerships he’s nurtured with a variety of great talent. “Don’s been coming around to my house to do demos of his new songs for years now, which is kind of amazing,” Sam reveals. “I asked him to come in and play piano on the first track [“I Don’t Need No More”] and he was so great about it.”
For all Sam’s wonderful work on other people’s music, it’s in his solo career that the artist truly shines. Which brings us back to the new album.
What’s in a name? Sam says that for all the heart and soul he poured into his first three solo albums, it’s this latest recording which most concisely captures his essence as a singer/songwriter. Which is why he’s chosen to simply call it Sam Hawksley.
“It’s self-titled, and I think that’s kind of important,” Sam says. “This is a record that will tell the public most about who I am, who I am musically.”
Sam Hawksley by Sam Hawksley is without doubt the defining new work in what’s already been a magnificent, albeit not-quite-famous career. This record will change everything.
It’s an album that should finally bust one of Australian music’s best-kept secrets out into the open for all to enjoy. Play it, love it, share it. Why should only other musicians and Sam Hawksley converts have all the fun?
I DON’T NEED NO MORE
I write this in Canada with a guy called David Martin. Normally with a session I’ll have stuff prepared but he turned up with this little thing. He played me the chord progression for the verse and sang something and I was like, ‘That’s fantastic.’ And basically I took it and ran with it and I finished that song within 10 minutes. It was one of those great moments where you just channel something and you don’t know where it comes from. It’s one of my favs on the record. And Don Walker plays piano on that track and Matt Fell going crazy with all the other mellotron stuff.
SHOULD YOU DECIDE
I wrote this with Jim Marr and Wendy Page. They wrote a song called “Honey To The Bee” many years ago and I’ve written a bunch of songs with then over the years and we just have such a good time writing. We sat down for a couple of days and we wrote four songs in two days. And had lots of laughs. I actually picked up the chord progression from Larry Carlton’s website. He played this thing and I thought, ‘That’s an interesting chord shape that I’ve never thought of before’. All of sudden that song came out. It’s a song about an eternal optimist. His girlfriend keeps leaving him but he keeps hoping she’ll come back. But every time she disappears with more clothing than the time before.
SOUNDS LIKE SUMMER
I just tried to pant an image of what summer is like in Australia without being too jingoistic. Whenever I hear the cricket on the radio for the first time every year, I get excited because I know summer’s here.
This is a song I wrote with Kevin Bennett. I wrote the lyrics quite quickly, they just flowed out, and I sent them Kev and he came straight back to me with the melody and the chords. The Flood actually did a version of the song on their record, but they did an up-tempo, almost country version of it. Mine’s a bit more introspective. Rod McCormack played acoustic guitar on that track, which was amazing. He really made it come to life. And Inga Liljestrom sang back up vocals with Krista Polvere, and the BVs are great.
There are a couple of songs on this new record that feature the ukulele. Night Owl is a little story about a party animal. A girl that rather than crying if she fees bad, prefers to go out and party. So I was just sitting around playing the ukulele and that little chord progression popped out.
NO TIME FOR THE RAIN
I wrote this with a guy called David Thompson in Canada. It’s basically a song about getting depressed: Sitting and watching the world go by and not feeling like you can become a part of it.
BATHING IN MY OBSCURITY
I did a show in the Blue Mountains and this guy came up to me and said, ‘You’re great – how come I’ve never heard of you. And I just, ‘I’ve been bathing in my own obscurity’. Straightaway I thought, ‘That’s good – I better write that down’. In a way it’s like “Not Pretty Enough” spelt out even further. It’s tongue in cheek. I came back from that show at 3am and wrote all the lyrics.
YOU STILL HAVE YOUR WAY WITH ME
I think this was the first track we recorded for this record. Shane Nicholson sang on it. It’s a song about how even though sometimes you try to kid yourself that you’re not right for somebody, they still have their ways of bringing you back.
I’LL TAKE MY CHANCES
I wrote this in Nashville with Thom McHugh. It’s almost like a blues. It’s about a bit of a gambler. Love is sometimes a gamble. If you were to stack up the odds like a bookmaker, you wouldn’t take the bet. But we do anyway.
BLUE BAY BLUES
This is a Richard Clapton song – I’ve played in his band a lot – and this is a song I’ve always loved. Richard’s version is fast and almost like a country song. I’ve made it more melancholic and more open and atmospheric. I was so pleased that Richard loved this version.
MY LITTLE SWEETHEART
This song happened very quickly. When you’re in a relationship, someone might come home from work and they’re not happy and you just want to say, ‘It’s okay, everything’s going to be alright.’
Another song born on the ukulele. There’s almost like a classical little guitar thing in the front that I’d been playing on the ukulele for a couple of days. It’s basically a lullaby and I thought it would be a beautiful way to end the record.