Hadnot Creek released 'Winter’ back in February for those of you wondering why this bleak and desolate collection of spit and sawdust Americana appears on these pages to coincide with some of the hottest days in recent memory. We might be breaking out the strawberries and cream for Wimbledon over here but Cliff Richard this is not. Formed in 2016 by Charlottesville, Virginia’s self-confessed shoegazer Rober Sawrey, Hadnot Creek brings to mind windswept log cabins on lonely mountains. Opener ‘Everyone Is Guilty Of Something’ sets the mood. It’s not just the Cash-esque depths of Sawrey’s vocals, the whole vibe is lo-fi, the lyrics harsh and the guitars delightfully fuzz-boxed in the style of Beck or early Radiohead. Acoustic guitar also plays a large part on the album, you can feel the frostbite on tracks like ‘I’m Never Far Away’ as Sawrey uses his unique talent for melancholy to suck the listener into his Neverland of unrequited love and twist the powers of sonic interpretation to make the listener hear rather an unholy perversion. Oh, the power of a well-timed violin draw!
The Beck likeness comes through again on the track ‘Jesus Radio’, one of the more left of centre tracks on offer with its jazzy snare, slide and Wurlitzer keys while Virginia honoraries the Rolling Stones’ ‘No Expectations’ is faithfully renditioned. ‘Depression Blues’ and ironic thoughts turn to how here’s a guy who makes Nick Cave look cheerful as he reflects: “Misery is your only friend/Visits you night and night again/Whispers into your ear/Claiming to be your next of kin” and its funny but sometimes hearing others ruminate on the sour side of life can give one a lift – the flock mentality. The album closes with the title track, Lucy Haden Smith’s ghostly backing vocals saturating the record in an ethereal, metaphorical blanket of winter snow.
Like a bag of old bones or a lonely dust-covered LP at the bottom of a garage sale nuanced with the clarity of a grain of dirt, this has been crafted such that it could be a hundred years old and would still trickle from your speakers like the crystal water from the North Carolina creek synonymous with the band’s name. Hadnot Creek’s ‘Winter’ is all you could ask for from contemporary Americana roots music because that’s just it, they make that word contemporary redundant – their music is that rare diamond. Timeless.
Review from A & R Factory
Posted on 23rd March 2018, Review by Amelia Vandergast
HADNOT CREEK – WINTER: SIMPLISTICALLY SUBLIME LO FI INDI FOLK
Fans of Lo Fi Indie Folk will absolutely be in heaven with Hadnot Creek’s debut track Winter. It’s a sound that would be right at home on Eddie Vedder’s Into the Wild Soundtrack. It has all over the same wonder-lust soundscapes that you’d expect from an Indie Folk track, the muted vocals over the simplistic guitar rhythms creates a powerful sound that simply can’t be ignored.
The lyrics are fairly simplistic, yet that’s what gives winter an utterly sublime edge it taps into your psyche and demands you share in the melancholy with lyrics such as “I wish you were here to make you a cup of tea”. It’s that small, intrinsic nod to loss and mourning that makes Winter the ultimate evocative experience.
With other tracks in Hadnot Creek’s back catalogue titled ‘This World is Killing Me’ and ‘Temple of Gloom’ you can get an idea of where Hadnot Creek is heading with his blissful sounds, it may not be for everyone, but whilst Morrissey is still raking it in, I’d definitely say there’s more space for melancholy on the radio waves.
Divide and Conquer
By Matt Jensen, May 16, 2018
HADNOT CREEK - WINTER
3.8 out of 5
By Matt Jensen of Divide and Conquer
Hadnot Creek is an indie folk rock band formed by Robert Sawrey in 2016 and recently released Winter. Some of the other core members are Zach Samel, Damir Kajan and Lucy Dass-Smith. There are other notable contributors such as Tyler and Lee Sargent who were former members of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, cellist Ted Stuart, guitarist Bu Quarles, and blues singer Eli Cook.
Sawrey points to artists like Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and Sparklehorse. I will admit I already liked his taste and was excited to hear what he had to offer. Sawrey offered heartfelt performances and songs that were often dipped in nostalgia and melancholy. His vocal delivery fit the bill and wraps around the words like a man who has had some hurt and heartache.
The album starts with one of the more upbeat songs entitled “Everyone is Guilty of Something.” On this song in particular I thought Sawrey sounded somewhere between Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen. It’s a driving song, although there is an upbeat quality to the music there are still dark overtones that fill out the song.
Up next is “I'm Okay” which feels quite different in approach. The drums are gone and it is an atmospheric song built upon guitar, harmonica and vocals. “I'm Never Far Away” is a beautiful track with orchestral strings where some of that Tom Waits influence starts to become apparent.
“I'm Never Far Away” was a highlight. The song embraces the atmospheric aesthetic of “I'm Okay” but contains additional instrumentation and the vocal melodies were a little more catchy to my ear. “No Expectations” is another great song with solid background vocals and slide guitar. The next song that stuck was “Depression Blues” which I thought actually had a little more of a Nick Cave vibe but I think he's in a similar vein to some of the aforementioned artists.
I continually enjoyed the more melancholy borderline dismal lyrics like on “You’re So Lost” mainly because the vocals were able to match the feeling of the words. That being said I’m glad they threw in a more upbeat song like “Is There Something Going on Here?” before getting to the more reflective and melancholy closing title track.
This is a great album and I thought some songs in particular were exceptional. I think if you are a fan of any of the artists listed above you will be happy you discovered this.