“Songwriting is one of the most mysterious and magical forms of art. It’s like having a blank piece of paper and some crayons. You don’t have to be the best, you just have to be brave enough to explore and bold enough to court the unknown.” Felix Hatfield, who wrote the above, releases False God on October 23rd.
My guess is that the album will divide listeners (it certainly has as I’ve been listening to it and somebody’s walked past the door); my second guess is that Hatfield would be more disappointed in his work if it didn’t. He maintains that his songs are for those “pushed to the edges, left behind, outcasts and underdogs who are looking to find their own voices again”.
You have to listen to it really – but I’ll try and persuade you to listen by suggesting that it’s got the skill of an, apparently ramshackle, surrealist poem or painting, or of, say, ‘Rainy Day Women #12 & 35’.
The only video I can find from False God is ‘Nobody for Me’ below, which is handy because it captures that sense of Hatfield writing songs you think you could sing over wine and cider slumped in a graveyard – while the priest looks on torn between wanting to join in with the humanity of it all or moving you on because you’re cluttering his church. And it also captures Hatfield’s skill. When you’ve played the track once, for example, rewind to about three and a half minutes in and hear the way Hatfield delivers a novella in the few seconds it takes to sing “nine/Thirty”.
Elsewhere the stories of the songs are filmic (‘Her Crazy Days’, ‘Train To London’), poetic (‘That Kiss’), or as referential as TS Eliot (did you spot “another hungry mouth to feed” when you listened to ‘Nobody for Me’?)
In ‘Choose Life’, Andre Breton, co-founder of Surrealism, said, “Choose life instead of those prisms with no depth even if their colours are purer”. It seems an apt quotation for Hatfield’s album, not just because Hatfield has been making surrealist art and music for twenty-five years but because False God is music you’ll keep coming back to; it captures something you know you shouldn’t leave behind.
Artist’s website: http://www.felixhatfield.com
‘Nobody For Me’ – official video: