This review is long overdue, but seeing as it’s on an album of timeless beauty the delay doesn’t matter. The first few weeks after its release I wasn’t even that impressed with the debut album by Aussie singer-songwriter Husky Gawenda.
Interviews given by the sensitive young man didn’t increase my appreciation of his work. Gawenda apparently grew up listening to Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Crosby, Stills and Nash and felt great relief after Fleet Foxes showed that young people are listening to old people’s music again. A friend had to drag him to an open mic-night before Gawenda found the nerve to play his songs beyond the security of his bedroom. Despite this spectacularly unexciting story, Gawenda and his four piece band were able to create a collection of songs that I’ve grown to like, perhaps even love, over the last couple of months.
A first listen Forever So, sounds very, very Fleet Foxes. It made me realize that although I was as impressed by the Sun Giants EP and the Seattleites self titled debut as the next man, I rarely seem to listen to the them nowadays. According to i-tunes I listened to Helplessness Blues only four times. I guess I’m just not a true indie-folk fan.
Fortunately, Husky are not as persistent a bunch of musical hermits as their American counterparts. Their beards are way shorter and their influences more diverse and in some instances more recent. There’s no stunning vocal harmonies on Forever So, but Husky compensates with a soft, boyish voice that gives the album a great sense of intimacy.
Opening song Tidal Wave is overwhelming in its tranquility. The song revolves around a two chords on an acoustic guitar and gently builds up to an epic piece of rustic reflection. Even though it’s one of my favorite songs of the year, I’m glad that the pace on Forever So soon picks up and some influences outside of the log-cabin can be heard. From light funkiness (Fake Moustache) and noughties Alt. rock á la Coldplay (History’s Door) to classic rock revivalism á la Midlake (Hunter) and even moaning experimental rock á la Radiohead (Hunter Again). Many more references can be made and still Husky never leave the domain of indie-folk. A fire-place warmth run consistently through the album.
Forever So doesn’t sound much like a debut and technically it isn’t. Gawenda recorded an album in 2008 with another line up, which he has stricken from the Husky discography. It’s obvious that Forever So is made by a group of musicians who are more than just colleagues. A lot of patience and care has gone into the arrangements and compositions and the production by Noah Georgeson (Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom) provides an impressive finishing touch.
Since the recording the album, Husky have moved from Down Under to the US-west coast where they’ll get a chance to make their personal stories a bit more interesting. Some proper alienation or drug abuse will give them the first hand experiences that are worth reflecting upon. I’d might be the only thing that could be added to improve Forever So. Some ripeness, some true sense of loss, some authentic regret; some Leonard Cohen, basically.