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Album Review: H. Hawkline - Milk For Flowers

This week I have been listening to the excellent Drowned In Sound podcasts which have had some interesting talks around Artificial Intelligence and its use in the creative industries. What these podcasts highlighted to me is how frightening it is that this Government is handing over our creative industries to the hands of Artificial Intelligence. How much money the Government is pumping into these companies, bypassing copyright so these companies can have all our songs, books, art, poems so they can then have Artificial Intelligence producing art. I strongly feel this should not be allowed to happen, art and the creative world is about lived experience, human emotions, lyrics that are written and sung from the heart. There is no way Artificial Intelligence can replicate that true and honest emotion of being a human.

Milk For Flowers the fifth album from H. Hawkline is a perfect example of why we need human beings to be writing and recording albums. This is a deeply personal album about grief following the passing of Huw Evans mum from cancer four years ago. An Artificial Intelligence system could not create an album in this way quite simply because it is not real and not intelligent. These systems have no emotion, no lived experiences and no common sense. Before the world goes completely mad and hands everything over to AI please take the time to appreciate how lucky we are to have musicians like H. Hawkline giving us albums as beautiful as Milk For Flowers.

I have been a fan of H. Hawkline for a number of years, have followed his journey with a great deal of interest, written about his albums in the past and enjoyed everything this man has created. Knowing all of that in my opinion Milk For Flowers is the best album he has recorded. It feels like the most complete and accomplished album he has released. Listening to the lyrics you feel that Huw is inviting us into his world, how he processed grief, his own thoughts on life and mortality. At times it feels like we are invading his own private thoughts, and we need to be mindful and respectful of that at all times.

Milk For Flowers has to be played from start to finish, you can’t skip songs, you must give this album your full attention and I promise it will help you in so many ways. We have all experienced grief in our lives, at the time we may not have been able to find the words to fully capture how we felt. What Huw has done in this album is given us lyrics to relate to, “I paint my face for everyone I meet” sings Huw on Suppression Street. Many of us would have been in this place and done exactly that. I remember when my nan passed away, I was going about my usual day to day routines, walking to University at the time, looking at everyone continuing with their lives and the world I was currently living in felt very different. With grief we feel that we have to paint a face and continue as the world does not stop.

All of that said this album is not a sad album, there are so many great pop songs on there. The title track has a lovely, uplifting piano melody that will fill you with joy. Plastic Man continues with melodies that are full of sunshine. Athens at Night is a classy, groovy song that will make you want to dance. These are just a few examples of the real intelligence of the pop star that is H. Hawkline, there is nothing left to chance on this album. Every sound, every lyric that we hear has been put where it is for a reason. Huw has also surrounded himself with other creative minds including Sweet Baboo, Davey Newington, Paul Jones, Tim Presley and of course his long-time friend and collaborator Cate Le Bon who has produced the album in such a majestic way.

Final mention goes to Mostly which sees Huw questioning his own mortality, and how he wants to be remembered when he is no longer with us. As you listen to this song you will no doubt be thinking the same. As humans we all want to be happy, be loved, and to be remembered as someone who was kind and did the best we could with the time that we had.

There is still so much more I could say about this album, I haven’t even mentioned some of the amazing imagery in these lyrics “I feel like a nun picking roses” is just one fine example of this. If these words have made you interested in hearing more, get yourself a copy of Milk For Flowers, switch off from the world, and remember how privileged we are to be living on a planet where we have creative artists like H. Hawkline who share their innermost thoughts and feelings with us in such an honest and memorable way.

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