If you’re a fan of the kind of songwriting and tone once mastered by the likes of Tracy Chapman, UB40, Jack Johnson – George Hierro is a superb indie artist, with a fine ear for effective melodies, beautiful guitar work, and a lyrical backbone that opts to roam where much of mainstream music wouldn’t dare.
Hired Guns starts off this new EP in the perfect manner. Keys-led initially, with an otherworldly dash of shoe-gaze and a retro beat, the song soon kicks in with a reggae rhythm, multiple acoustic layers, and a deeply conceptual storyline.
George’s voice brings a fine balance between delicacy and weight, meandering through this long-form melody with ease yet with plenty of passion and grit. There’s a certain air of timeless intention to this track, it’s an easy hit to get onboard with, provocative and musically satisfying in the way that many unexpected, refreshing gems tend to be.
“What’s it take for a man to stand up tall? What will come of the names up on that wall?“
The title-track follows and that reverb-kissed electric guitar sets a similar ambiance from the offset, before the beat comes in again, and a likeable flicker of guitar rhythm that quickly gives the song a recognisable trait.
Vocally this one gets personal, reflective of the self but in an accessible, vague manner that’s easy to make your own. The rise and fall of this melody is beautiful, the call and response method is hypnotic, and works well in the context and mood of the song. George’s songwriting is stunning, his use of metaphors and his melodic development unite beautifully with his sincere and captivating performance style. A personal favourite.
No One To Blame leads with a different vibe for an extended intro. Then things get somewhat heavy fairly quickly. Short lines rise up and descend while simple, memorable ideas stand tall relating to peace, forgiveness, pain, drowning while we’re sleeping. This feels like a mid-album or mid-set track that would captivate without needing to be particularly upbeat or catchy – its voice is heard for its placement, simplicity and poignancy. The final third sees a melodic switch and a gathering of vocals work together to reinforce a heightened sense of passion and poetic reflection. A brilliantly expressive, unique piece of music and writing.
Adding an upbeat bounce at just the right time is the song So Easy. Strong imagery remains, as well as that recognisable vocal tone and reggae rhythm. Here though we have a relationship song that’s a little lighter topically.
Empty My Heart later switches things up as a trip-hop style soundscape calmly washes over. The vocal rhythm differs, the song is all the more personal, intimate, and the melody and structure work well to showcase a gradually increasing energy and brightness. George’s voice reaches some incredibly engaging peaks throughout this four-minute beauty.
Bringing things to a memorable finish is the acoustic brilliance that is Merry Go Round. You get a real taste for the live performance here, the solo guitar allows for a genuine and easy to connect with moment of musical purity. Really nicely crafted, and placed well right at the end – a final reminder of the versatility and skill that George Hierro combines with his powerful, occasionally infectious, always compelling songwriting.
A real pleasure to stumble upon. A timeless collection that’s here to shine a light on the true talent and reflective depths that await a worthy audience in the indie world.
EP Out June 12th. Visit George’s Website for more information.