From California to Texas, all-American trobadour brings his diary to the stage.
“Remember to follow up on hunches as long as you’re here”: this line of an old Dirk Hamilton’s song is a summary of his creative method. The artist has been around for four decades, notching record after record – his debut produced back in 1976 by Gary Katz – but didn’t become a star only because intuition means freedom, not fame, although hunches can provide one with a faithful following. Here’s a testament to it, laid down in 2009, when the veteran toured his “More Songs From My Cool Life” album two thirds of which he performed in front of audience. An hour-long concert isn’t easy listening, of course, yet there’s something in those cuts that makes you sit and pay attention.
Maybe it’s a warm glow in “Searchin’ For The Heart Of Soul” with which Dirk’s husky vocals draw spectators in to engulf them in decisive strum and delicate twang, his harmonica anchoring the piece’s romantic meander and adding acidic sarcasm to the lambasting of “Hardball In The Holy Land” that rides a suitably sharp, infectious riff. Or maybe it’s a rockabilly crunch carrying “Feather” that feels just as catchy, its ensemble-abetted chorus and Don Evans’ electric solo rendering the number irresistible. Picking up where “You Are My Sunshine” left off, “All The People In This World” will bare the singer’s idealistic underbelly, while a stark “Windmill Hills” hits hard as Hamilton, left alone with his acoustic guitar, is delving into dewy-eyed, age-worn nostalgia – but the reminiscences forming “Dean, Don, Dan” are laid out in a bluesy march, and the licks of effusive “Overcoats” store mementos in a moderately boisterous way.
Not surprisingly, lyrical caress of the topical “Coming To Light” must elicit a round of applause, yet of course, it’s rollicking country of “Yep!” that keeps the audience on their toes. Crossing a 7-minute mark, “Lonely Videos” outstays its folksy welcome, so you should be a fan to be focused for an hour, and you might as well become one if you do: joining Dirk Hamilton’s following is a privilege.