Hawker Roam is more or less the solo project for Shawn Homer. He did however get some help on his album Beneath the Surface. Homer wrote the album over three years and it felt epic in a Pink Floyd way to me. I say that because the songs have a cosmic vibe to them in a very similar way and the comparisons are undeniable. Homer sounded like an alternative version of Neil Young. If you can’t hear the fragility in his voice that sounds like Neil Young then you are wrong.
The production and engineering was above a typical DIY but shy of a commercial release. For example, there were times where his voice sounded too low in the mix or a snare drum sounded too prominent.
In a Pink Floyd way the album is emotionally very heavy. I’d actually argue Beneath the Surface is more emotionally heavy then Pink Floyd. On most Pink Floyd albums you get a song or two that gives it a sense of levity and fun. Every song on this album felt dramatic and serious to me.
The subtle moments were often the best executed. You could hear the flaws in the engineering peek through (especially within the vocals) when things got intense with instrumentation. Homer also excelled on grabbing a good groove. “(Please) Rescue Me” has an enjoyable groove he wisely rides for a while.
I have to respect the songwriting and attention to details on this album. There really is great production with a vast array of sounds. On top of that he has very thought out lyrics. On “Of Lives Lived and Died” he sings “We landed on Betio, Tarawa atoll / In the fighting Second, but the third wave in on our Higgins Boat / The Coxswain was a coward and wouldn’t take us in / till his forehead met the pistol of Bulldog Harrington.”
My personal favorite piece was “From the Hands of a Friend.” I really loved the fragility of his voice. This song also felt the least influenced to me although I did think of Nick Cave. Homer really needs to be aware of how thin a line he is walking to sounding too much like Pink Floyd. Every musician is usually influenced by another artist to some extent but I think he needs to be careful.
Overall, this was an enjoyable, expansive effort that I can’t help but admire. Homer is still a young guy and I hope to hear him dig deeper into a signature sound on his next release.
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