For Fans Of
With bands like A Death in the Family, Conation and Fear Like Us to his name, Newcastle’s Jamie Hay is no stranger to the music scene. While his debut solo full length, King of the Sun, offers honest accounts of heartbreak and tragedy, the record also carries a message of hope and resilience, passionately played out on a largely acoustic backdrop. It’s been a solid year for Australian music, and Hay’s album, which includes guest appearances from Lincoln le Fevre, Matt Bodiam (A Death in the Family), Adrian Lombardi (Blueline Medic), Carl Burnett (Arrows) and Liam White (The Scandal), is high on a long list of fantastic 2012 releases.
Opening track ‘Old Photograph’ sets a nostalgic tone for the record, driven in equal parts by its strong chorus and Hay’s emotionally charged vocal performance. ‘Rabbit On’ follows, maintaining the feeling initiated by the album’s opener. The stripped down song conveys a sense of anguish and loneliness, once again showcasing commanding vocals from Hay.
‘Wounds’ is simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting. ‘Newcastle’, one of the album’s many high points, is similarly powerful, with a more melancholy overtone.
The lyric driven ‘Where Do the Missing Go?’ tells a tragic story, propelled by Hay’s pained vocals as his words unfold. While this mournful feeling is a constant throughout King of the Sun, the record is injected with some optimism in ‘Hand in the Quicksand’ and ‘One More Lament’, which speaks of being held down for too long by the dark days.
Aside from a one minute instrumental interlude, ‘The Gift of Years’ is the album’s shortest track; an enduring a cappella number that sees Hay’s voice shine on its own. While King of the Sun has a distinctive Australian quality to it overall – prominent in ‘The Gift of Years’ through Hay’s accent and storytelling – it’s not a defining characteristic, allowing the record to remain universally accessible.
The album draws to a close with its title track, which ties the ten songs together perfectly. Although the record’s songs are musically similar, there’s a strong sense of cohesion, and enough variation to captivate the listener from start to finish.
There’s nothing contrived about Jamie Hay or his debut full length, King of the Sun. He isn’t self-indulgent with his talent, yet the intricacies in his vocal melodies and musicianship are more noticeable with every listen, and despite the sombre nature of the record, Hay has a comforting presence that makes each of his beautifully crafted songs relatable.
1. Old Photograph
2. Rabbit On
6. One More Lament
7. Hand in the Quicksand
8. The Gift of Years
9. Where Do the Missing Go?
10. King of the Sun