Sunday, August 10, 2014


If you're in touch with the indie music scene in Canada, you're probably familiar with Hawksley Workman. He's an artist that's strangely hard to classify; a glance at his albums will show what an eclectic array of genres he's tackled. From glam rock, to heavy pop, to hip hop, to traditional folk, you'll be left almost wondering if a different person was behind each album.

Not so. And now, we can add musical theatre to that list with Songs from The God That Comes, an album that accompanies Workman's solo rock opera that is currently touring all over the place.

The God That Comes is a rock cabaret retelling of Euripides' 'The Bacchae', a story of a king that is troubled by his citizens indulging in dance, drink, and sex in worship of the Greek god Dionysus. The story itself is not abundantly clear through Workman's music alone... but it doesn't matter. In this case, knowing the story before you hear the music will making piecing it together crystal clear. And from what I understand, the way the show is performed on stage is that Workman first tells the entire story as an opening monologue, before even a single note of music is played. After that, Workman dives into the show all on his own, playing each character by himself (and characterizing them with different singing voices) as well as playing every single instrument alone, often recording his work live so the music can continue when he physically stops playing one instrument and moves to another.

The very first song, 'Invocation', kicks things off to a moody, surreal start with narration by the voice of a young girl juxtaposed with the underscoring of a thunderous, pulsating rhythm. It's a gripping, intense opening with a theatrical sound that borders on heavy metal. Then, Workman sings, his booming and well-trained baritone proving its adaptability as he effortlessly jumps between throaty yelps, rough growls, a floating and full falsetto, and a clear legit belt. He's in stunning voice on this album.

The songs are quite an eclectic mix, as should be expected from Workman. There are some emotional acoustic ballads, pounding rock anthems, and catchy and pleasing pop tunes. There's even a clever and hilarious song titled 'Ukelady Boy' that is very much in the tradition of Hawaiian folk music.

There's not a bad song in the bunch. 'The Dress Makes the Man' is incredibly funny and tuneful, 'Wild Abandon' is searing and emotional, 'If Your Prayer' is infectious and has a beat that evokes images of a carnival while driving with a militaristic pulse, and 'He's Mine' is genuinely stirring. The album ends with an epilogue of sorts, the very catchy pop song 'They Decided Not to Like Us' that has an almost coffee shop open mic feel.

Songs from The God That Comes is a deliciously sexy, thrilling, complex, and tuneful work of musical theatre that will leave you begging to see this work performed on stage. Hawksley Workman has immense range as a singer and as a performer, and his voice is given a workout with his stunning and powerful songs. A rewarding and unique piece that defies convention.

No comments:

Post a Comment