FIFTY3 FRIDAYS: TWITTER OUTRAGE
This week’s Fifty3 Fridays includes some names that will be familiar to any who happen by this column on a regular basis. If that’s you, I say thank you and please follow me on Twitter @TonyHardy53 as I am only 9 short of 1,000 followers. I’ve just got off the phone to Elon Musk and he says it’s outrageous how few followers I have. I said I have to admire how he manages to read the feeds of all of his 80m followers and does it have anything to do with time travel.
Anyhow we settled on a clickbait headline this week, an engaged F3F follower [you mean library shot - Ed] and a vague promise that I might remember to retweet this article more than once. Meanwhile I hope you will enjoy this week’s selection of music which includes some familiar names, a reconnection and a local musician (not just for local people of course).
I came across the colourfully named Hui Hue in January 2021 via her enchanting debut single in that new guise, “Your Silence”. Since then, she has continued to work on her engaging blend of alt-folk and pop music while juggling the not inconsiderable demands of childcare. Her name change was inspired by a dream and there is a feeling of reverie in the very framework of her songs that is evident once more in her new offering, “Creepy Creepers”, the first of a collection that will form an EP shortly. Hui has again engaged the innovative ‘British Pop’ artiste Alex Hall as producer and leading mix engineer Jay Pocknell on her new material.
“Creepy Creepers” is a bold exploration of how childhood memories can become warped when carried unresolved into adulthood. “After spending 8 years at the whim of a narcissistic ‘life coach’ and ‘spiritual healer’ I spent my 20’s lost in the world of dream-work analysis and the thorough, intrusive investigation of my own childhood” Hui candidly explains. She almost became the little girl under the bed covers hiding from big scary monsters of her subconscious. Contrastingly there is a feeling of liberation from such anxieties in the complexity of the strings, synth and drums that accompany the floaty intimacy of Hui’s vocal. Together both encapsulate the beauty of empowerment through music.
Photo of Denney by Kevin England
By sheer coincidence, songs from our next two acts also featured in Fifty3 Fridays dated 29 January 2021 – look it up in the Archive if you like. There are some great tunes there and the odd joke about sea shanties (remember them?) After a busy year of writing, recording and setting out on the live music trail, Emma Denney has taken a break in Thailand where she is currently on workation, if such a word really exists. We should expect some enticing new music in the second half of the year but meanwhile composer/producer Chris Norman aka KaizanBlu has released another collaboration with Denney to keep things moving back home.
Though it follows “Run”, which came out in January, KaizanBlu & Denney actually completed “All I Need” over a year ago but it has only recently been given a public airing. Emma has again demonstrated her talent as a topliner, adding the lyrics and vocal melody, while Chris composed the backing track and took charge of production and mixing. Known for her ‘sad girl songs’, Emma commented: “This was a rare moment of happy songwriting for me. The lyrics are about when you realise you want to be with someone forever”; short and sweet sentiments as always perfectly voiced against a smooth, chilled backcloth.
Photo of The Trusted by Jordan White
Southend-on-Sea natives, The Trusted, are hardly strangers round here either as the schoolfriend four-piece has impressed with successive indie pop singles over the past couple of years. There are a great many bands out there working similar territory but these boys stand out in the way they combine obvious camaraderie with strong musicianship coupled with the added polish provided by frontman Tom Cunningham’s vocal prowess. These elements are again to the fore in the band’s latest release “Millennium”, which, in case you recall it, has no connection with Robbie Williams’ song of the same name.
The Trusted’s “Millennium” is about growing up in the early 21st century against a constant barrage of information and electronic noise. “We live in a time where it’s really hard to switch off and escape the wider world. Everyone wants to be a celebrity and it feels like modern culture worships irrelevant/meaningless content. It’s so easy to lose yourself in an ever-increasing noisy society” say the band. Thankfully The Trusted’s own brand of noise is highly tuneful and crisply produced. Perhaps it will lead one day to a kind of celebrity status itself or at least a few choice festival fields where this band could definitely hold its own.
Photo of Paul Thomas Saunders by Ali Painter
Getting on for six years ago I reviewed a show at the somewhat quaint setting of Hoxton Hall in London N1. Playing support to visiting US headliners, The Head and The Heart, was Brighton-based singer-songwriter Paul Thomas Saunders. I knew of him from his rather wonderful 2014 debut album, Beautiful Desolation, which you can find on Spotify et al and is well worth your trouble. His set that evening was a stripped-down affair in contrast to the layered studio sound for which he is known. Thinking back, I heard nothing more of him since until this week when an announcement of a new single landed in the Inbox.
“TV, Junk Food & Bed” is his first single in five years. Having left music behind to train as a paramedic, citing this profession to be of value compared to his own music making, he made a brief return in 2017 but only had his musical flame fully rekindled after Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon surprised him with an invitation to play at Dublin’s Forbidden Fruit Festival in 2018. The new single is the first of a batch of new songs by Paul Thomas Saunders to emerge. The apparently mundane setting of being sat up in bed eating fast food with the TV on after a night shift in hospital is contrasted by the spacious, sonorous feel of the soundscape against which the haunting ache of the artiste’s voice highlights the discord between a life imagined and one lived. Beautiful in its desolation, even.
Photo of Morning Crush by Rachel Kiki
And so to Morning Crush which has nothing to do with tube travel nor the girl you see on the 7.30am to Waterloo but is rather the moniker of singer-songwriter Tim Ostrowsky-Thomas who resides in my own parish of Kingston, Surrey. In fact, the derivation of the name is a rather sad one as it refers to ‘feeling crushed’ by living with clinical depression; Tim’s songs were a way of working through negative thoughts and a feeling of dread. He started out busking aged 14 and sneaking underage into open mic sessions. He wears the cloak of a timeless troubadour, able to speak out about mental health issues and social unrest in his songs and fundraise for charities via scarily-sounding 24-hour busks.
Tim has a family connection with Ukraine through his grandfather, although sadly he is unaware of any surviving relatives. He has just shared “Stories Of War”, a truly moving song that will grow in its impact the more you hear it. The story of his grandfather is poignant in its simple honesty; its sentiments laid open and bare. A note of hope for peace is struck in the telling of how Tim’s grandfather survived the trauma of seeing his family murdered and built a new life for himself. It is a song that speaks for itself and needs no further words from me other than to say that profits from this song (from Bandcamp downloads) will be kindly donated to the Ukrainian Humanitarian Appeal.
Morning Crush also released an album last year which is well worth stopping by too. Here is a nice live studio version of the title track, “Brand New House” which shows another aspect of Tim's all-round talent.
I STAND WITH UKRAINE