(c) Photo by David Hawkins
Kevin Hewick has just released his album Doomcloud as a free download available from his website.
Kevin Hewick is probably most famous for being the man who flunked the audition to replace Ian Curtis in Joy Division. That's probably unfair, not least because he was never really suited to be a dark front man to New Order, it wasn't really an audition and he never really sought it out. He was however an inspirational anti-folk singer-songwriter (Tony Wilson compared him to Elvis Costello), a bit of an oddity on the Factory record label that was home to Joy Division, New Order and their like. His song Haystack is one of that label's classics (or would have been if it didn't actually emerge in its proper form on the 1980 Les Disques du Crépuscule compilation From Brussels With Love). Stylistically, Kevin's gruff neurotic-yet-romantic punk-folk singing was in a world of its own. After the 'dark years' in the 1980s/1990s, Kevin is now writing songs and has been gigging a lot, mainly around his hometown of Leicester, playing three hour covers sets and of course his own songs. He is currently playing in Hewick, Haynes and James who describe themselves as a power-trio in the Hendrix/Cream mould, but with bits of Davy Graham and Girls Aloud. Sounds fascinating.
Doomcloud is an album of demos recorded at home and then left unfinished in 2003. It's a pretty stark, but at times beautiful, album of love songs; the lyrics raw and honest and in places deeply touching. The tone is set by the opening song 'An Object she's left behind' :
Now she's gone it's as if she were never here
It's as if I imagined the last few years
The fighting is over, the loving is too
My other half was just passing through...
The guitar lines are simple, yet at times impossibly beautiful. The words weave in stories of sad lonely relationships, of longing, of hope and opportunity. The song 'How far off the target was I?' is one of the best, a tale of a lonely man's hope and failure in the quest for love. Kevin's vocal is superb too, carrying his powerful impassioned voice across the plaintive refrane captured in the title, and then some "...how embarrassing it was to see my dart fly, a mile off target from the bullseye."
Not all of the album works, and some of it still sounds unfinished, perhaps too painful to keep working on. But where it works, it really works.
I can't fail to be moved by the beautiful guitar lines in 'Make that call', and the optimistic demand "to turn on your mobile, wherever you are... I'll stay in touch". Another favourite is 'I'm not involved', with an excellent memorable riff and a melody that sounds both modern and straight out of the finest English folk from 1972.
Imperfect and flawed perhaps, but honest and moving and raw.