“Hammerhands” by E.W. Harris is a song driven by the undeniable uniqueness of its performer. Rarely these days do you hear something so fiercely organic yet distinctive. The chords, lyrics, melodies, and production blossom underneath E.W. Harris’s folksy, bright, and engaging tone. It’ll take you on an emotional journey unlike any you’ve taken before.
The song begins with a few acoustic guitar strums accompanied by some soulful, melismatic vocal runs. A robotic voice iterates some mysterious words in the background, implying that this may not be your regular, everyday indie folk song. “They call me old Hammerhands,” Harris cries, his voice forming idiosyncratic pronunciations and an achingly touching timbre.
The musical content successfully cushions the story, with effervescent electric guitars, organ swells, and soft, choir-like vocal harmonies. The lyrics, however, take center stage. Listening through this song, each line completes a piece of the puzzle, and yet you can never really grasp what their literal meaning is. The best lyrics are those that evoke imagery, feelings, and implications without revealing too much. Here Harris constructs an idea of a man who is down on his luck, or simply out of place. The people around him misunderstand him–but even this explanation doesn’t do the literary value of this song justice. Harris elicits raw, unbridled sentimentality with his control of language.
If you’re looking for a song that’ll make you feel something, you couldn’t do better than “Hammerhands.” It’s, simply put, a genius composition. E.W. Harris is one of the most endearing, genuine, and fascinating artists in folk music.
Written by Alyce Lindberg
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