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Peter Hammill - Everyone You Hold CD (album) cover


Peter Hammill


Eclectic Prog

3.42 | 96 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Hammill captivates us with quiet introspection and solitude

'Everyone You Hold' is Peter Hammill's solo album released in 1997. He seems to bring an album out every year during the 90s or every second year. This solo album begins quietly with very soft vocals and beautiful harmonies on the title track.

The album as always features some accomplished musicians and in this case Hammill is joined by Stuart Gordon on violin once again, and also from the van der Graaf days it is a welcome return from Hugh Banton, a wizard on organ. On keyboards backing Hammill is David Lord, but the real delight here is the soprano vocals from Hammill's family Holly and Beatrice Hammill. Their beautiful voices balance Hammill's starker tones on many occasions.

'Personality' has some unusual musicianship in the intro, dissonant violins scraping and then a rather upbeat keyboard motif chimes in. The lyrics are reflecting on the inner man; 'if the truth be told, all the plots will unfold, we've as many lives as we have friends, all acquaintances'. Hammill builds into a more confused state of mind, 'of fractured personalities, I don't remember your name', and there is a very cool lead break followed by sweet harmonies. One of the better tracks on the album.

'Nothing Comes' is a tour de force for Gordon's violin and Hammill is a concentration of reflection. The melancholy air of dejection is echoed in the lyrics; 'it's all downhill from here, with no sense of feeling, nothing comes as a shock, you remind me of the girlfriend I never had, never fitted the equation, I was never quite one of the lads.' This is a song to sink into after hearing sad news or experiencing despair. Hammill is the master of reflection on sad times and exudes down hearted emotions.

'From the Safe House' is patiently minimalist with quiet piano and a low vocal; 'this is not the final call and this is not a ghostly guide, still we're glued to the headsets while the world's collapsed outside.' The atmosphere of seclusion is strong as we hear Hammill's private thoughts. Sparse instrumentation is the key of drawing in the listener deeper into his mind without distraction with clever intricate time sigs or effects.

Each song contains the same mellow soft introspection and therefore becomes rather repetitive. It would have been better to hear some louder Hammill or more inventive music at times to break the monotony. Although it is uplifting to hear Hammill's ladies singing 'Phosphorescence' with him, and Gordon's violin sweeps are majestic. 'Falling Open' has some esoteric atmospheres with the scant musical figures and in your face vocals. The existential lyrics are always a drawcard; 'the book slips through my fingers, all the pages falling open.'

The album has a showstopper with 'Bubble' which is one of the more inventive songs, full of Hammill's brooding vocals and dripping with the cold starkness of Hugh Banton's cathedral organ, whose presence on this augments the atmosphere. Hammill's lyrics are as aloof as ever; 'can't go back, can't reverse, no one here really quite believes the bubble's going to burst.' Hammill gets more intense on this song that builds with piano, organ and harmonies at the end; 'and our bones become the coral of the future, and we slake the lifelong thirst, with the pin prick on a reef like a razor, the bubble's going to burst.'

The album finishes with 'Can Do', a showcase for Banton's organ, and 'Tenderness', both very moderate in tempo. 'Tenderness' opens with Hammill alone at his piano. It builds gradually with some stark percussion and keyboards. The song reflects on coping after a relationship breakdown. It is surprisingly creative after the straight forward melancholica of previous songs. After the quiet opening the music becomes alarmingly unsettling. 'Remember and let go,' Hammill's voice seems to warn as electronic sounds begins to crawl in to the cold silence.

This Hammill album is certainly a quiet personal one and has some innovative moments with Hammill always excellent on vocals prepared to lay his soul bare before us. His songwriting is to be commended as, on each of his albums, he always manages to captivate the listener with the sheer reflective poetry of his craft.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


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