The ten song release Overlook from one of the indie scene’s greatest talents, David Hopkins, amply highlights why this singer, musician, and songwriter deserves a wider audience. The Irish born Hopkins has earned his burgeoning reputation in a variety of ways – working beside everyone from British rock legends The Who on their 2001 Quadrophenia tour, Dublin based band LIR, and as frontman for Bombay Heavy under the nom de plume Barnabus Wu.
His new release Overlook feels much more like his own work than any of those preceding collaborations, even those not listed, and there’s a strong poetic quality to each of the album’s ten songs quite unlike anything else we hear in the mass market today. There’s a potent variety of influences running through these songs and Hopkins’ outstanding cadre of collaborators helps realize these tunes with artfulness rarely hard in increasingly musically impoverished times.
The instrumental “A Small German” opens the collection with melodic brass that has a slightly mournful quality, but it also boasts a density and musical weight we don’t often associate with such other brief pieces. The second track “C’est La” has a distinctly modern edge with its lubricous bass pulse and streaks of electronica and synth wrapping around the steady backbeat. The synth lines have a practically string-like quality that contrasts quite nicely with Hopkins’ upper register vocals. Listeners will enjoy the near funk of this track, the first “proper” song on Overlook.
The delightfully titled “When I Do It With You” has a subdued, Irish blue-eyed soul slant that beguiles listeners early on and holds their attention throughout. The bridge is particularly effective as Hopkins ramps up the aural intensity just enough to make the song really go aloft. The arrangement contains some surprises as things progress and there are some tasty guitar bits embedded in the song as well.
The gong crash opening “Who Am I What We Are” has a curious mix of Beatles and Radiohead influences with a smattering of Pink Floyd gnawing around the edges. The double tracked vocals and melodic strengths of the song are especially memorable. The relaxed guitar-driven glide of the song “Irresponsible” is another highlight of the album with a sweet chorus that casts a glow over the song thanks to its light Latin-esque lilt. “Disappointed” sounds like a speedier than expected waltz, spinning around and around from the first, and the Beatles influences running through the track are never too pronounced. The acoustic guitar jangle underlying much of the song is very effective.
The number, “God & Gabriel”, has an effervescent bounce after beginning with a rather ominous gong seemingly inviting us into some kind of concluding darkness. Instead, we hear the sound of a musician and writer with unique control over his talents sounding more confident than ever with an ideal curtain for this album. There’s no question that David Hopkins’ Overlook deserves repeated listens and has riches that only become more apparent with each new hearing.
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-review by Scottie Carlito