It’s fitting that Calgarian Mark Andrew Hamilton goes by Woodpigeon: Even though the project is almost entirely a solo venture, his music escapes the painful predictability of what listeners have come to expect from eponymous singer-songwriters.
Sure, Hamilton’s fifth full-length release, Thumbtacks and Glue, comes complete with a campfire-appropriate sing-along (“As Read in the Pine Bluff Commercial”), but the album packs more musicianship and ingenuity than your average modern-day folk artist might deliver. Its lo-fi, organic sound—filled with twangy electric guitars and ever-tasteful additions of percussion, bass, and harmonies from Hamilton’s backing band—is reminiscent of Elliott Smith, and its soft, nasally vocals are charming and convincing.
The front end of the album features a series of pleasant tunes, but those are truly just a precursor to the trio of superb songs that closes the album. “Edinburgh” delivers one of the album’s strongest and catchiest choruses, while “Hermit” is a seven-minute, multi-movement composition that entirely justifies its extensive length, with beautiful brass arrangements that lead into a crescendoing middle section before the song escalates into a cathartic wall of sound. The title track closes the album with a lead bass line à la Flea, complemented by layers of airy pads and ambient electric guitar.
Like the songs that precede it, it’s a fully developed concept that doesn’t rely on obvious hooks or cheap gimmicks to draw its listeners in. Hamilton’s tunes won’t get stuck in your head the first time you hear them, but you’ll definitely want to listen to them again and again.
Playlist picks: “The Saddest Music in the World,” “Edinburgh,” “Hermit,” “Thumbtacks and Glue”