Clever Hopes “New Kind of Familiar”

Independent, 2024

Songs of transition, optimism and a new beginning.

Clever Hopes is the moniker used by Andrew Shaver. He is a multi-talented theatrical director, actor, and musician. It is the second time he has used this name, the first being for the album ‘Artefact’ in 2022. ‘New Kind of Familiar’ explores how things have changed since his last recording. He has moved to Nova Scotia, fallen in love, become a father, and lost a friend.

It is an extremely laid-back album that doesn’t rush the listener. Instead, it glides them through different settings in a very unassertive, relaxed way. Opening with a languid slide guitar that sets the tone throughout, he shares the vocals on several songs with Eva Foote; they complement each other effortlessly, and while Shaver’s voice is not as deep or as strong as Mark Lanegan their affinity is reminiscent of Lanegan’s, and Isobel Campbell’s.

The opener ‘The Only One’ deals with the excitement of a new relationship while at the same time recognising the sting of a previous breakup. The tempo is raised on the second track ‘Thrown it Open’. It is augmented with a very pleasant brass sound which is quite unexpected and works very pleasantly. The overall sensation throughout is one of hope and reflection: “I have nothing left to prove, I promise you those days are through, I won’t let you suffer fools”.

The standout track is ‘Whore’s Racket’. It is a tribute to long-time friend and collaborator the late actor Brian Dennehy. It has been woven from snippets of conversations and quotes between them, reflecting on the veteran actor’s life and achievements. “I asked him if he was proud of his life and career, and he said, ‘Well, kid, it’s a whore’s racket but I think I made a mark.”

New Kind Of Familiar’ succeeds on several levels. It can be put on in the background and especially with the understated horns it is very agreeable but when listened to more carefully, it does offer so much more. An album for all occasions.

7/10
7/10

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