Lonely Hummingbird

by Andrew Howie

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Michael Mathy
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Michael Mathy check all the tags in this beautiful album. it completely describes very well all the diversity of this album.
And if someone says me she/he did not listen to "Sugar coat" at least three times in a row, I will say "LIAR" ! Favorite track: Sugar Coat.
Jo Wilson
Jo Wilson thumbnail
Jo Wilson A fantastic fusion of Andrew's poppier tunes and some lovely synth sounds from his ambient stuff. This feels like one of his most coherent records - in that all the songs fit well together and the album flow really works well.

Particularly enjoying Nickajack (the music, and lyrics that are close to home at the moment), Culnakirk Hill (familiar subject matter as we embark on faith discovery with our nearly-5-year-old who just wants lots of Right Answers), and the jam out of Sugar Coat. Favorite track: Sugar Coat.
Rachel Taylor-Beales
Rachel Taylor-Beales thumbnail
Rachel Taylor-Beales A beautifully arranged multi textured collection of songs, sometimes indie folk pop - sometimes ambient electronica and much more in between. Catchy tunes with plenty of hooks provide the backdrop to thoughtful lyrical narratives and self-examination both wryly self-deprecating and intensely soul searching. Great production, lots of space and interesting sonic layers with a range of dynamics throughout (headphones recommended to experience the full breadth of the mixes)
Daniel Borsos
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Daniel Borsos Nickajack is Andrew's Johnny Cash tribute (with Rebecca Pronsky playing June Carter) that's both chilling and funny. In this album Andrew strikes a brilliant balance between his singer-songwriter and his ambient/industrial/noise sides. Listen! Favorite track: Nickajack (feat. Rebecca Pronsky).
Steve Lawson
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Steve Lawson Fabulous artist makes fabulous record. Returning to form is way bigger news than being consistently interesting and vital for almost 20 years. The added ingredient here is Andrew's fascinating collection of co-writers. A vital addition to an already fantastic catalogue. Favorite track: Sugar Coat.
Fergus McNeill
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Fergus McNeill Sonically diverse, lyrically intelligent, emotionally engaging: I love this record. It's a journey of many twists and turns; and every one of them casts a new light on the human stories Andrew shares. Listen and then listen again... and again.
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about

In late 2013, as part of a Masters Creative Project I was undertaking at the University of the West of Scotland, I travelled to the USA to work with five songwriters based in Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC and Nashville.

The title of my project was: "In what ways does the collaborative process challenge, influence and change the creative practice of the confessional songwriter?"

At each songwriting session I presented my co-writer with an incomplete song I had written from a 'confessional' point of view (i.e. personal and diaristic in nature). We then attempted to finish the song, transforming the writing process from a solitary venture into a collaborative effort.

After returning home, I recorded demos of all the co-writes, handing in a 10-track album and a 5000-word contextualisation as my finished project (for which I *just* scraped an A). Having had my fill of academia for at least one lifetime, I took a big step back from the whole project, leaving the dust to settle on it for over 18 months. After recording and releasing 'The Great Divide' and 'Scars Are Like A Beacon' (my last 2 albums) I felt the time was right to return to these songs.

The process of re-visiting, tweaking and re-recording this album has not been an easy one (and could have been another Masters project all by itself) but, for me, the experience has become much more than just the creative-process-challenging academic exercise it started out as back in 2013. As well as being a document of my journey to the States (found-sounds recorded on my trip are liberally scattered throughout the record), the songs on this album explore the themes of self-doubt and writer's block (Sugar Coat and Dirt), loneliness, individualism and the meme of the solitary genius (Companion), my love of Johnny Cash intermingled with a friend's experience of depression (Nickajack), self-sabotage (Standing Up Tall), and my old friends doubt and post-evangelicalism (Culnakirk Hill and Testament). Two key influences on the lyrics were Carol Craig's book 'The Scots' Crisis of Confidence' and 'Stages of Faith' by James W. Fowler.

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"The origins of Stirling-based singer-songwriter Andrew’s latest album (having previously recorded as Calamateur) came from his Masters project at university a few years ago, where he brought half-fi nished songs to like-minded musicians such as Amy Allison and Denison Witmer to see how collaboration altered things. The result is a mix of beautiful acoustic tracks and inventive electronica, filled with insightful lyrics of loneliness and self-doubt. Best moments are Sugar Coat, Nickajack and Testament."
- Scottish Daily Express

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credits

released March 7, 2017

Written, played, recorded and produced by Andrew Howie, except:

'Nickajack' & 'Dirt' written by Andrew Howie & Rebecca Pronsky.
'Sugar Coat' written by Andrew Howie & Amy Allison.
'Companion' written by Andrew Howie & Steve Taylor.
'Static' written by Andrew Howie & Denison Witmer.
'Testament' written by Andrew Howie & Andy Zipf.
'Standing Up Tall' written by Andrew Howie & Bill DeMain.

Additional vocals on 'Nickajack' by Rebecca Pronsky. Recorded by Rich Bennett.
Backing vocals and electric guitar on 'Testament' by Andy Zipf.
Keyboards and MIDI signals by Don Avidly.

Recorded at home.

Mastered by Iain Hutchison @ www.glowormrecording.com

Cover photo by Richard Vernon.

Thank you to Amy Allison, Bill DeMain, Rebecca Pronsky, Steve Taylor, Denison Witmer and Andy Zipf for taking the time to write with me. Thank you to Richard, Andrea, Esme, Anita, Julie, Dan and Drew Ann for your friendship, hospitality, advice and transport. Lastly, thank you to Lindsay and the kids for letting me run away to the States for two weeks.

Released on Autoclave Records. CLAVE020

www.autoclaverecords.com

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about

Andrew Howie Stirling, UK

Andrew Howie (ex-Calamateur) is a Scottish singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer & prison/community group music tutor. He combines confessional & empathetic lyricism with acoustic instruments, noisy electronics & ambient textures to create introspective, hook-laden songs about uncertainty, doubt & love. You'll find him either holed up in his home studio or playing in your living room. ... more

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Track Name: Nickajack (feat. Rebecca Pronsky)
It takes more than ultraviolet to get near you
It takes more than simply waiting out the night
I couldn't quite explain to you my feelings
So I shut my borders, sealed myself up tight

I know there’s nothing I can do to make it better
I know your work is how you get through every day
And like a lonely hummingbird
You beat your wings to keep the world at bay

Take me in your arms
Take me in your arms
Hold me close
Don’t let me fall
Don’t let me go

It would help me if you took your medication
It would help me if you took a nine to five
I can try to keep myself contained
But nothing heals this gaping wound I hide

Take me in your arms
Take me in your arms
Hold me close
Don’t let me fall
Don’t let me go

I know you see this darkness deep within me
It’s like I’m crawling through that cave without a light
But the last line of that song is how I’m gonna prove you wrong
Darling, it’s not just your fight

Take me in your arms
Take me in your arms
Hold me close
Don’t let me fall
Don’t let me go

Take me in your arms
Take me in your arms
Hold me close
Don’t let me fall
Don’t let me go
Track Name: Sugar Coat
I shouldn’t have believed the lies you told
But hungry for truth I swallowed them whole
It started with a kiss and ended in my shame
Until it was clear there was no one else to take the blame

But still I can't quite bring myself to disconnect
Looks like you took all traces of my self-respect

So tell me your lies, compassionate lies
That patch up the broken bones
Don’t give me the truth, the truth is no use
You can’t roll away these stones
I’m not being held against my will
I know it is foolishness but still
I need the sugar coat without the bitter pill

Isn’t it about time I came in from the cold
Left competitions behind and took back what was sold
She haven’t seen me smile since I made that stuck-up list
The class of ’92 has long since been dismissed

So fuck the Sunday papers and their Christmas prize
And see the veil of tears disappear before your eyes

And tell me your lies, compassionate lies
That batten the hatches down
Don’t give me the truth, the truth is no use
This storm can’t be turned around
I’m not being held against my will
I know it is cowardice but still
I need the sugar coat without the bitter pill

So tell me your lies, compassionate lies
That patch up the broken bones
Don’t give me the truth, the truth is no use
You can’t roll away these stones
I’m not being held against my will
My defences are armed and set to kill
I need the sugar coat without the bitter pill
And if you expect me to make the same mistakes again I will
Track Name: Dirt
Once in a while
I sit down to speak
To build with my words
A quiet retreat
But this place and time
Where I used to hide
Is now crowded and cold
And just makes me tired

Somebody tell me the truth
Somebody tie me a noose
How about you?
How about you?

I once had a voice
It came with such ease
But now it’s harder to find
And I’m harder to please
So I need you to judge
What you read on the page
To throw bottles or flowers
Up on the stage

Somebody tell me the truth
Somebody tie me a noose
How about you?
How about you?

I’ve been there before
I’ll be there again
Lying in the dirt
A fool with a pen
Who puts his life in your hands
Sub-lets himself out
To the deafening roars
That drown my still and small voice out

Somebody tell me the truth
Somebody give me the proof
Somebody tie me a noose
How about you?
How about you?
Track Name: Companion
This highway I’m on is littered with loners
Hitch-hiker dreams that have never come true
Thumbs in the air and matted down hair
Hidden from view

I borrowed a car but the fuel light’s flashing
Got a guitar but it won’t stay in tune
There's a cardboard sign and a broken white line
Between me and you

Well they say that the cream
Always rises to the top
But I’ve heard that shit floats
Can you tell me which one I have got?

Cause I have come too far along this beaten track
To ever give a single thought to turning back
But I get so lonely on this road
Why can’t I pull over the car and let you in?
Why can’t I risk a little kinship now and then?
To be your companion and be your friend

With both hands on the wheel and one eye on the time
I know we've got the same destination in mind
So why do I feel like I need to do this alone

Got a Michelin map but it's ripped at the seams
Looking back I see the days that got choked by my dreams
Your cardboard sign could be the ticket I need

Well they say that confession is good for the soul
But all this raking around in the dirt has taken its toll

But I have come too far along this beaten track
To ever give a single thought to turning back
But I get so lonely on this road
Why can’t I pull over the car and let you in?
Why can’t I risk a little kinship now and then?
To be your companion and be your friend

Yeah I have come too far along this beaten track
To ever give a single thought to turning back
But I get so lonely on this road
Why can’t I pull over the car and let you in?
Why can’t I risk a little kinship now and then?
To be your companion
To be your champion
Your companion
And be your friend
Track Name: Static
Every time I close my eyes she’s there
But she never comes alone; I hear the static in the air
I try to trust the mystery but fall short every time
Doubtful of the promises I used to claim as mine

What if I lost you now?

My voice is cracked and broken in her ear
(What if I lost you now?)
But my tears can turn to anger like the days turn into years
(What if I lost you now?)
I memorise the history of all the love we’ve known
(What if I lost you now?)
Now all I need to hear is that she’ll never be alone
(What if I lost you now?)

What if I lost you now?
What if I lost you now?
What if I’ve got it wrong?
What if I’ve got it wrong?
What if I lost you now?
Track Name: Testament
Tell me all your questions
Every one and I will try
To leave them hanging in the air
Like stars in the night sky

Every doubt that you speak out
Is like a cigarette that sets the house on fire

Come be unafraid with me
I know what you've become
Tamed by the lie
You should be docile and numb

But you're as wild as the secrets
You keep in the recess of your heart

They crushed your precious testament
Like crumbs beneath their feet
Lungs filled with hollow words
We no longer speak
We close loopholes in our mind
Leaving whispers behind in haunted rooms
Track Name: Standing Up Tall
I’m holding my breath and counting to ten
Watching you shoot down your rockets again
Used up my patience, used up my grace
Till all that was left was a slap in the face

The push and shove
The sting of love
But beyond these moments

All I want is to see you standing up
Taller than I used to be, before you came and lifted me
To teach you courage and how to see that
Humility is not the same as being scared to speak your name

We pass in the air like two acrobats
We circle each other like comic-strip cats
But I’m not here to hurt you, not here to fight
Can’t we meet in-between what’s wrong and what’s right

The to and fro
The things we let go
But beyond these moments

All I want is to see you standing up
Taller than I used to be, before you came and lifted me
To teach you courage and how to see that
Humility is not the same as being scared to speak your name

Your name
On the rocks you brought home
Pulled from places unknown
Telling us we’re not alone

And all I want is to see you standing up tall

All I want is to see you standing up
Taller than I used to be, before you came and lifted me
To teach you courage and how to see that
The world will never be the same when you decide to speak your name
Track Name: Culnakirk Hill
Alone at the end
Of a Sunday school day
Kathryn taught me all
The words I should say
How to open the door
And let in the light
The tired old metaphors
That somehow seemed right

I couldn’t resist
Disrupting the choir
But when the lights went out
You called a cease-fire
Ushered outside
With barely a sound
You didn't blame me for
The darkness I’d found

A cold Christmas night
Silent family feuds
Half cut on cider I
Escaped to the woods
In cigarette smoke
And chilled to the bone
The silence pulls me in close
So I’m not alone

On Culnakirk Hill
With it’s turns and it’s twists
I'm begging for my life
And shaking my fist
I hit hard on the brakes
And sense my deepest fear
Is that when I call or curse your name
There’s no-one who hears

Still at the end
Of a Sunday School day
I teach my son all the words
I think he should say
How to open the door
And let in the light
The tired old metaphors
That still somehow seem right