Album Review - False God - Felix Hatfield - 2020
Musician, poet, sculptor, film-maker, composer… I think it’s easier to say that Felix Hatfield is an artist on multiple levels, who works across many different canvases. The one thing these all have in common? They tell a story from Felix’s soul.
False God, is Felix's favourite collection of personal stories taken from his songbook that has been filling slowly over the years of his journey along life's highway . This thirteen-track album was recorded in Felix’s basement over recent years, with the help of friends that happened to pop in on recording days; including but not limited to the likes of Experimental Folk artist Jolie Holland and Folk Rocker Esmé Patterson.
Basement Folk or Bedroom Folk, can be a mixed bag, so I approached this album with an air of caution. ‘False Gods’, kicks off with a track called ‘Seeing Things’, with the Jazz style intro. drawing my attention away from the view outside I was absorbing while sipping on my morning coffee. Then like an old long absent friend turning up out of the blue, Felix’s soft world-weary vocals set the scene, with his tales of journeys long past, he fully monopolise my attention to his world.
The opening line an introspection, albeit a little anomalous compared to most; it moves, in nothing more than a couple of sentences, from self-reflection to that “Unicorn Woman”; the elusive, perfect Woman who may only exist in one’s head. This is the woman who, when you finally meet her, makes you start to question if it’s 'all in your mind'; a deep-rooted dream playing out before your eyes, an hallucination of your own sanities’ abandonment or; is she really standing there wondering why the heck you are staring at her with glazed eyes and a slack jaw.
This really sets the ride, an album that is an eccentric ruckus, an exploration through Felix Hatfields world and experiences. You never quite know what is coming next. Take the title track ‘False God’. On the one hand it seems to be someone describing writer’s block, that rocky relationship one can have with one's creative side. Yet, the next time you play the track it seems to be about blundering up a relationship.
While some tales my have bilateral meaning, depending on one’s mood or the person listening to said story, others are as the morning sun currently shining over An Cliseam (Ed. it’s the local mountain), crystal clear.
Take the track and album single ‘Nobody for You’ which features Jolie Holland. It’s about a roaming musician whose life is spent on the road, gigging for their next meal and fuel money. That session musician whose talent far outweighs most of the chart-topping acts but never seems to get the recognition they deserve.
It’s hard to put a label on Felix Hatfield’s ‘False God’ album; one moment it’s a Jazzy Folk exploration of one’s inner feeling, then it's swinging wildly into the borderlands of Bluegrass Blues, before reflecting English Folk and the meaning of a relationship or a trip to somewhere unknown.
Combine this with Felix’s gentle unequivocal vocals, soothing your ears while massaging your imagination, you get an album that is as enlightening and inspiring, as much as it is pensive. An album that you put on repeat in the morning while sitting in the sun drinking coffee, only to suddenly realise that the sun has gone to bed and you are staring at the stars while contemplating your place in the cosmos.
While 2020 races way off-piste to her final few hurdles, one thing that is as clear as the mountain springs, is that from all corners of Folk, and its subgenres, has come some extraordinary albums. Felix Hatfield’s ‘False Gods’ claims it’s place amongst these without question.
False Gods is due for release on the 23rd of October 2020, so put an alert on your phone as you really don’t want to miss it.
For more information on Felix Hatfield and his music, take a hop and a skip over to his website here.
A big thank you to Devon Léger of Hearth PR, for sending us the preview.