Lonely Hummingbird

by Andrew Howie

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Dann Chinn @ Misfit City
Dann Chinn @ Misfit City thumbnail
Dann Chinn @ Misfit City Whether recording as Calamateur or as himself, Andrew Howie's always been a master of achingly lovely songcraft, of mood, and of atmospherics that cover everything from fresh air to swarming electrical storm. This isn't the first time he's married all of these elements together, but this record's additional joining of his own Scottish ballad leanings with the richness of the American country song tradition is absolutely breathtaking.
Michael Mathy
Michael Mathy thumbnail
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.
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1.
2.
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
3.
06:41
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
4.
03:16
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?
5.
04:56
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
6.
03:57
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?
7.
02:48
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
8.
01:30
9.
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
10.
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

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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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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