Today, Los Angeles-based British indie-folk artist, Fairhazel aka Hugh Macdonald gifts us with his brand new 16 track album I Sold My Soul For Fairhazel. Embarking on his artistic journey back in 2018, this began when; following him leaving Berklee College of music, he returned to London where he started working under the name Fairhazel, soon releasing his debut single 7×7 in the February which gained much critical acclaim. Since then he has released a mass of stunning indie-led singles, culminating in the release of his debut full length album, I’m a Friend of Fairhazel, which dropped in January this year. Establishing himself as a musical storyteller, this sees his songs and artistry blur the lines between fiction and true stories. Now, taking the next step in his artistic journey, Fairhazel sees the release of his sophomore album which encompasses his signature gentle and emotive vocals that bring a captivating energy to his music. To accompany the album release, Fairhazel is also hosting a livestream event, today, which has him partnering with Musicians Without Boarders in order to raise funds for their organization. Perfect for those fans of Bon Iver and Ben Howard; make sure to give I Sold My Soul For Fairhazel a listen, and keep on reading for the full album review.
Created while in quarantine; I Sold My Soul For Fairhazel is a multitude of stunning arrangements and detailed production, with a vibrant and diverse instrumentation running throughout. In his usual storytelling fashion, he brings together straightforward statements with tongue-in-cheek humour to narrate a stunningly beautiful album from start to finish. Infusing a varied range of genres and influences, we get a fusion of sounds and energies; from more retro-pop based soundscapes on Broadhurst Gardens, to more classic indie melodies on I Thought I Could Be Somebody. With a mass of brand new tracks, the album also features several pre-released singles including Hell Is Only Hell and God Speed Helena. When elaborating on the album, Fairhazel explains:
“It’s a collection of songs chronicling my move from the UK to the US and the evolving sound and style that came with it. I was listening to almost exclusively the Kinks and Harry Nilsson and their songs bled into my songwriting. The album is a self-reflection on the purpose behind writing songs, inspired heavily by Fela Kuti’s story of harnessing the power of music for a greater good”.
Kicking off the album is the first track, Maybe. A mellow and dazzling indie song, the shimmering soundscape develops to include a more synth based and ethereal instrumentation, that adds a vibrant and alluring aura to the track. The perfect song to begin the record with; this immerses you into the sonic world and landscape of the album; giving you a taste of the dynamic and ever evolving melting-pop of sounds. As we move through the project; we experience an assortment of different sounds and melodies. From more vintage sounding pop-led vibes – reminiscent of artists such as The Beatles – on tracks like Broadhurst Gardens and The Sole Narrator; highlighting this throwback pop edge as a distinctive part of the album’s soundscape. To the more subtle rock and pop-rock melodies we get a glimpse of on Ten Thousand People in Hollywood, with the use of gritter electro guitar riffs. Dividing the album into two parts, track 9 – Cruel Hard World marks the end of disc one; bringing the first half of the album to a close with a stunning instrumental interlude. With light and airy vocals weaving themselves in and out of the first part of the song; Cruel Hard World is an exquisite classical piano-led composition, that brings a new layer of depth to the already stunning sonic background of the album.
The Morning I Died introduces part two of the record with a jaunty indie-led, acoustic guitar-based melody. With stunning harmonies and a colourful instrumental, this is one track that will certainly put a smile on your face with its bubbly and inviting energy. More evident on this B-side of the album are the gentle rock influences that subtly immerse themselves within the more quiet indie and pop refrains. This can be seen on track 6 (15) – Jerry Li – where the calm guitar instrumental and delicate vocals give way to a more up-tempo rock melody and steady bassline. With this building to a powerful rock verse, that soon dissolves back to an acoustic guitar instrumental, featuring a brief spoken word monologue. The only collaboration on the album; Jerry Li features performer, songwriter and producer Terry Borderline, with the two pairing harmoniously together. The final track of the album is For All of This Music. A classic indie melody begins the track, which soon transitions into a carefree indie-pop rhythm. And as the song develops, it incorporates a range of vibrant instrumentation and some stunning female harmonies into the sonic landscape, that brighten and revitalises the track. Carrying out the album are a few acoustic guitar notes that bring a refrain of conclusive finality.
A truly stunning record, I Sold My Soul For Fairhazel is one that surprises and delights! With an eclectic blend of musical compositions, and stunning vocals; the record is the perfect listen to take you through the winter months! For more on Fairhazel, and to keep up with his artistic journey; find him on all his socials: