It’s almost impossible to pigeonhole Hazeyjane. At their heart is the songwriting of guitarist Chris Brown accompanied by Ash Tu-Kay, a pseudonym of producer and label boss Ashley Woodward. The line-up has recently been expanded but on One, their debut album, Chris and Ash do everything except for extra vocals on ‘Instinct For Survival’ from Stephen Jones. Between them, they do a lot and there are some nice guitar breaks. I occasionally found myself wishing for one instrumental workout where Hazeyjane could really cut loose and show us what they are made of.
I’d heard and enjoyed on track before this CD arrived and I was half-expecting something a little more out there but One is quite conventional. Sure, there’s some found sound and the music sometimes settles into a soft folk-jazz groove but that’s as far as it goes. These are mostly love songs and by the sound of things Chris has had some bad times but that’s where the poetry comes in. ‘Crucify Me’ is somewhere between a plea for forgiveness and a cry of rage and possibly my favourite track. Water is a recurring motif. ‘Instinct For Survival’ has drowning as a metaphor for despair calling the writer to his doom while ‘Written In Water’ considers the impermanence of words.
‘Sunrising’ is my other top track. On the one hand it’s about the way the diurnal and annual cycles rule our lives and on the other…I’m not quite sure. “Honours imitate wealth’s alchemy” seems to be a key line and maybe Chris is writing about the contrast between wealth and poverty.
With ‘Last Lines’, however, we’re back to lost love and feeling wretched but getting over it and I really like these songs – they say something to me and you can’t ask much more than that. There’s a hidden track, an alternative version of ‘Instinct For Survival’, and I don’t even mind that.
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‘Autumn Rain’ live: