Local Feature: David Hyams
If you're looking for some new music and you're sick of the mundane- you need to check out Fremantle based songwriter David Hyams, on his brand new album 'Travelling Bones'. I first met David three years ago at Fairbridge Festival and his music has absolutely captivated me ever since. 'Travelling Bones' is a beautiful contemporary folk and country album with a hint of blues that fills a small part in your soul that you wouldn't otherwise have even known was empty. It's also the first time the warm and unique voice of Hyams has been captured on an album. It's filled with obvious strong ties to the Australian outback and landscape and I think that adds a really personal feeling to a very strong album. 'Travelling Bones' features lots of instrumentation which makes for some unique sounding tracks and really gives this album its main feel and vibe. David plays the guitar, mandolin, dobro, bouzouki and also sings, he's accompanied by Roy Martinez on bass, and Angus Diggs on drums. If you've seen David live before, you'll also recognise the string players; Melanie Robinson on the cello and vocals and Jenny M Thomas on the fiddle and vocals. It's also worth mentioning that 'Travelling Bones' was recorded by Rob Agostini at Soundbaker Studios in Perth, and mastered by James Hewgill- favoured by many accomplished musicians- most recently John Butler.
The opening track of 'Travelling Bones' is 'Shine On'. It's a brilliant opening track and one of my favourites on the album. 'Shine On' is a celebration of the Kimberly and how beautiful it is at night and David does this using beautiful melodies and harmonies that stay with you long after the song has finished. Touches of strings in the right places and the beautiful vocal layering really enhance the feel of this song and I really enjoyed how well balanced this song is. Nothing is over or under done- its just constant and even through the song. If a section needs more- it's there. Some sections don't need that much- and they're right too. Just a really good example of great songwriting.
'In This Summer' is a happy upbeat guitar driven track which has some really great vocals harmonies. It really tells a story and makes you feel like you're in an Australian summer. It's got a really great feel to it and I love the way it just feels like Australia-in-a-song without being cheesy. This song was a tribute to David's favourite coastal areas and you can really feel that. So great.
'A Roadside Lament' is a song I've heard live quite a bit but on record it's not what I expected at all. It's about a time David hit an emu while out on the road. The first minute is mostly atmospheric, angsty sounding instruments just going crazy and really giving you the raw, edgy vibe that Hyams must have felt in the moment and I love the track so much more now. The crazy sounds make for a really cool track and this is another of my favourites, purely because it was a familiar one and I just love all the changes. It really makes the song much more impressive.
Following that raw scary track we have 'Home for the Weekend' which is upbeat and once again we can hear Hyams' love for the Aussie outback in his lyrics. What I find really great about this track is the contrast between the warm vocals of Melanie and Jenny backing up David and then heating his voice by itself, it's a great juxtaposition of sounds and I think that's really effective in this particular track.
David has done a lot of rehabilitative work with inmates in Western Australia and he says a lot of that actually helped him write lyrics for his songs. 'One Day' is a song written for a female inmate who was struggling to overcome tragedy and the lyrics are super haunting and really stick with you after you're finished listening to the track. I love the way the guitar flows in this track and the dobro sound works really well with it. Really beautiful to listen to. I liked this track a lot.
'Love Stays' is interesting in the way we have a pretty upbeat happy song with fairly negative lyrics in the verses, which then turns around to be positive again in the chorus. I love the fiddle part which matches up with David's vocal track in some to make up the hook melody. They blend together better than they should! I think the mix should get a little credit in this section. The drum track in this song is also really good. I enjoyed the way it sounded and it in with the track.
'Travelling Bones' is next and I always feel like tracks that have the whole album named after them really have a lot to live up to but this song certainly does that. It's a lyrical journey and the main melody of this track is really one of those ones that gets stuck in your head. The vocals on this track are really exceptional too. Melanie, Jenny and David were honestly made to sing together. It's a prefect blend of voices and it really comes together to form that main hook. When are you gunna rest those travelling bones David?
'Shifting Sands' is another one driven by the dobro. Man- I do love that sound. David has this way of making stringed instruments just sing. He's fit it in around the vocals perfectly and this song is really where the dobro shines in its own element, when we get to hear what it can do! And yes, there's another cheeky 'Travelling Bones' reference in there! ;)
'Bittersweet' is our next track and we are now getting to the pointy end of the album. The opening instrumentation feels on edge and the vocals mirror this feeling. The whole song has a more bitter than sweet feeling and just feels really sad. The fiddle gets a chance to star in this song though, as well as the upper range of David's vocals.
I remember David telling the story of 'On and On' which is basically all about being on the road and touring. The cello is beautiful on this track really gives it a chance to come into its own. Different people from the road make small lyrical cameos in this story David has written into song.
The penultimate track on 'Travelling Bones' is 'Another Day' which again draws on David's experience with inmates. This track is about readjusting to life on the outside when you've been in prison for a long time. The lyrics really draw you in and make you feel the emotion that you're supposed to feel. The tune and the message stuck with me all day. There's a few different awesome progressions and licks that all come together to create a really cool sounding song- more so as the song goes on. It's sort of got to be heard to explain. What other excuse do you need to get a hold of the album!?
'You Are the Song' finishes the album on a high. It again features all of the vocalists in perfect harmony and the mandolin really adds the extra pop into the track. For such a tiny instrument it sounds absolutely brilliant. It's the absolute perfect track to end on. I love the break down halfway through the song- it's short but sweet and is exactly what the song needs. Perfect ending track!
I remember asking David about an album a year or so ago and it feels like I've waited forever. Honestly it was worth the wait. I've been listening to this album all day and there's no tracks I don't like or am sick of. It's a really strong effort. David Hyams is launching 'Travelling Bones' this Saturday, the 11th of May at the Fremantle Workers Club. Presale tickets are $20 for guests or $15 for members and you can get them at the door for $25 on the night or online (CLICK HERE).
The night will open with Nyoongar Songstress Gina Williams accompanied by the talented Guy Ghouse. David will launch his album accompanied by the above mentioned musicians who played on the album and the night will close with the Miles to Go band playing until the night winds up. It should be an excellent night so please go and support David- he's one of Perths good guys both musically and as a person. You can also find David on Facebook for more information or tweet me and I can point you in the right direction! @perthsoundchic and @isolatednation will keep you posted. David is great on social media and will keep you more than updated with gigs and where he is in Australia and the world with photos and updates. Contact him to get a copy of the album if you can't make it Saturday but do yourself a favour and check him out.
Until next time!