Raine Hamilton | Past Your Past
I have been a little spoiled this week since returning home to Guelph from a weekend spent at Folk Music Ontario. I returned home with a handful of recordings and a dozen download cards from artists who came from across Canada. When I came home I was the most excited to listen to a recording from Manitoba's Raine Hamilton. I watched Hamilton play unplugged at a private showcase at FMO's conference. She did a great job articulating the background of her writing. After downloading the album I have to say this is one the best albums I have listened to this year. I find it really difficult to describe to people what makes this record so great without uttering the word "Everything". Raine Hamilton's album "Past Your Past" is a strong portfolio of quality song writing and incredible melodies. It is easy to write a strong lyric for a single chorus or a single verse but Raine Hamilton does it consistantly for 10 tracks. If you want to know what I'm talking about just listen to "Time", "I Read Your Book", and "Mes Mains". I find it hard enough to craft a song in one language, Hamilton does it in two. Hamilton's attention to detail when it comes to lyrics and melody is almost perfect. Her album receives a 9/10 rating because of its strong arrangements and songwriting.
Song Writing: 10
Favorite Song: Time
If I could fault this record for one thing it would be the production value. The album is noticably compressed at times and some of the mixes don't seem to be well balanced. For example in tracks like "Knots In Woods" the cello mix is a little out of character for the song causing it to sit more on top then I would like it to. Also the standup bass sound lacks a certain low end that I think would bring better power and support to the song. I really have no complaints in regards to instruments like the drums - they sound fairly open which is what I usually prefer. One of the best produced songs on the record in my opinion is the song "Everything". This track demonstrates a better overall mix and the instrument choice is fantastic. The horn part is well placed and defined in the mix (also a really great part). The strings in this song really help support Hamilton's vocal part nicely. When it comes to vocals on the entire album I would have loved to hear less compression - Hamilton's voice is so beatiful it should be allowed to stick out a little more in parts. I give the production of the album a 6. Listeners will be able to tell that this is a project recording but it doesn't detract away from the incredible songwriting and playing.
"Past Your Past" is one of the best written albums I have listened to this year. It displays an attention to detail in regards to the lyrics and melody I haven't really found in most recordings. Raine Hamilton demonstrates she can consistantly write great songs. Even the arrangements for each song are consistant. Not one song sounds like it was thrown together on the last day of tracking and forgotten. I usually like 50% of the songs on an album but I have to say that that number is closer to 95% for this record. If you listen to the first track ("Time"), I bet you won't stop until track ten. If the first release for Raine Hamilton is this good I can not wait for the follow up. Please don't keep us waiting. I gave this album a 10 for writing - listen to it and you'll understand why.
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