Wednesday, 18 January 2012
Review: Haniel Stuart
Haniel Stuart - High Tide (Independent)
Born and raised in Liverpool, though now resident in Perth, Australia, singer-songwriter Haniel Stuart will surely make plentiful friends on both sides of the world with his debut collection. His easy voice and relaxed way with a tune, cloaks some clever lyrics and a genuine talent for sharp hooks. Co-Produced by Justin Pickford, who also plays on the album, there’s nothing here that you’d call fancy, but it’s got good feel to it and it always hangs right with the material.
Stuart plays a lot of shows and much of “High Tide” feels like it’s been road-tested in front of audiences. The album opens with the gentle guitar strum of “Distant Waves”. By the time the vocal arrives the mood has been set, and whether that’s the rolling sea in the background, or a soft cymbal splash, I can’t be sure. Whatever it is, it’s an integral part of the piece. “Hayley” is far livelier, with plenty of bite, and puts me in mind of a cut-price Fleetwood Mac circa “Tusk”. Honestly, that’s a good thing.
If I had to pick one solid gold recommendation it would be “Stray Bird”. Upbeat and electric, the reference points go back to the early ‘60s Brit blues tradition, but with a chord progression that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a post-punk record. It’s well worth tracking down.