CD Review: Hawksley Workman, “Meat”

I am throwing my hands up in the air.

When I listen to an album, I try my hardest to find some kind of pattern. I ask myself, “Why did this artist put these songs on this album?” Lately, there seems to be a trend for albums to feel kind of discombobulated, or unorganized, if you will. I suspect this has something to do with our obsession for singles, and the deathblow iTunes has dealt to the album (for good or bad). But I’m also perfectly willing to accept the fact that it’s just me imagining things.

Hawksley Workman’s new album, Meat, seems to follow this trend. It sounds like a group of songs that have little to do with one another. “Song for Sarah Jane” is slow-passing, sung by a reflective Workman, accompanied by little more than a piano. “And the Government Will Protect the Mighty,” on the other hand, is an anger-filled rant of distortion and angst. The two seem to have no business being on the same album. But despite this, the transition between songs is often pleasing, indicating some rhyme or reason for the arrangement of the album. But what that might be is beyond my abilities to reckon.

If my arm was twisted behind my back and I had to comment on some aspect of the album as a whole, I would say that this is a darker album, perhaps a more personal work in which Workman experiments with different sounds and styles while trying to choose a direction to set off in.

The 11th track, “We’ll Make Time,” feels like something that was thrown onto the album last-minute, evidenced by the fact that the transition to this song is so obviously clumsy in an album full of smooth and deliberately thought-out transitions. Annoyingly, this is my favorite track on the album and is the kind of songwriting that makes me a fan of Workman.
“We’ll Make Time” is different and refreshing, and is a reminder of why I love Workman. I wish the whole album made me feel the way this one track does, but ultimately I’m left disappointed with Meat. There are fun songs, there are deep and meaningful songs, but I get the feeling that, as an outsider, I lack the knowledge to appreciate this album, and therefore, to me, it lacks the depth I have come to expect from this artist. “We’ll Make Time” only serves to highlight this deficit.

2 stars out of 5