Ryan Hamilton taps into the Fountain of Wayne on power pop collaboration.
The power-pop genre and sub-genres that it inspired have a breadth as wide as any in contemporary music. At the grittier, less refined end of the scale artists like Big Star, Nick Lowe and Teenage Fanclub set the bar for melodic, energising songs bearing varying offerings of nostalgia, contentment and despair. At the other more expensively produced, radio-friendly end of the scale bands like Fountains of Wayne capture the essence of the original movement while staying just the right side of the line that demarcates the genre from mainstream Top 40 pop. Hailing from Fort Worth, Texas, Ryan Hamilton sits somewhere in the middle of this scale, fusing his Country heritage with alt-rock & power-pop sensibilities. His latest album ‘1221′, released on Steve Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool label, draws upon a variety of sources riffing on the theme of collaboration. Pandemically stripped – temporarily – of his transatlantic band the Harlequin Ghosts, Hamilton brings together several self-penned singles with covers of tracks by The Spin Doctors, The Refreshments and Great Yarmouth’s finest – Catherine Wheel, as well as a brace of previously unrecorded originals by Chuck Prophet and Bob Schneider, to make up ‘1221‘.
The result is an impressively coherent set of songs that advance Hamilton’s reputation as a future voice of power pop. Opening track ‘How Could You Want Him (When You Know You Could Have Me)’, is sweet and inviting with a chorus straight out of the Teenage Fanclub songbook. Elsewhere, ‘Satellite’ and ‘Permanent Holiday’ stand out in particular for their melodic richness and sincerity of delivery. Only once does Hamilton overstep the fine line between power pop and straight-up mainstream pop on ‘Deja Vu I Love You’ which is more Busted or McFly than Fountains of Wayne. He quickly recovers from this mis-step though, hurtling through a solid collection of Americana tinged pop before concluding with the poignant ‘Ready to Love Again’. A thoroughly enjoyable listen.