12 Aug 2020

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Ben Hazlewood - Album Review: Bloodline

27 Jul 2020 // A review by Mike Alexander

Ben Hazlewood is a songwriter for those big moments that we all encounter when we fall in and out of love.

For all the potential for joy, intimacy, belonging and fulfilment, when things fall apart there’s also the potential for deception, heartbreak, bewilderment and sadness.

On his debut album Bloodline, he’s certainly not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. A song such as the sweetly touching first single Lay Me Down typifies his openness and honesty.

It opens gently enough with a lovely guitar melody and a steady drum beat under-pinning the almost yearning lyric "holding out for everything that I have missed, the pull is strong, surrendering into it./ Reaching out and aiming true to be with you is my only desire". Then it deftly turns into a power pop anthem with a rousing chorus echoing around the sentiment of the song "I need a night, I need a night of whispers, come lay me down". The chorus echoes around Hazlewood’s plaintive multi-layered vocals, giving it an additional emotional surge.

Lover and The Way You Do are also fully charged 'love' songs to let your thoughts and feelings get lost in. They might idealise the object of their affection but it’s that common touch, with his own unique perspective that gives them, and the pumping but thoughtfully reflective Damned, their appeal.

Hazlewood, who cites David Bowie, Stevie Nicks, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin among his influences, also throws up some insightful lyrics into 'the human condition' particularly on the stunning Fear Is Catching, which wouldn’t sound out of place in a U2 concert.

The lyric "I fall, I break like anyone else" is suggestive enough but the real pause for thought moment is in the line "I know the strength it takes to win the fight against myself". It’s always difficult to face up to ourselves and the choices we keep making, particularly when we find ourselves falling into the same old patterns and mistakes. It is that tiny spark of self-honesty that fires up Fear Is Catching into a song that could so easily have wallowed in self-centredness but, instead, turns into something cathartic.

Bloodline is a bold and refreshing opening statement that has commercial appeal in aces. If Hazlewood was a poker player, you could argue that he’s easy to read but perhaps that’s just the confidence of knowing that you are holding a winning hand.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Ben Hazlewood

Ben Hazlewood is the rare artist with a voice dynamic enough to captivate almost completely on its own.

As an anthemic alt-pop artist, raised on artists like Jim Morrison, David Bowie, Stevie Nicks, and Janis Joplin, his music channels an outrageous vocal strength and an emotive soul filled force. a force matched only by his magnetic stage presence and glam-rock-inspired fashion sensibilities.

His debut album Bloodline is the culmination of years of hard work. A journey that started near Wellington, New Zealand, then ventured to London for three years, where Ben fronted a rock band, before relocating to Australia, where Ben now calls Melbourne home.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Ben Hazlewood


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