Music Reviews

New Releases Roundup – Ada Lea, Hamish Hawk, Maxwell Varey and KAP

Gemma Cockrell and Kiah Tooke

Gemma and Kiah review the latest releases from Ada Lea, Hamish Hawk, Maxwell Varey and KAP.

Ada Leadamn (Gemma):

Montreal based visual artist and singer-songwriter Ada Lea (Alexandra Levy) has released her latest song damn, alongside the announcement of her second album ‘one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden’ which will be released on 24th September. It follows her 2019 debut album ‘what we say in private’.

The new album will be a concept album, in which each song blends fiction and reality whilst exploring a specific dot on a map of the city where Levy grew up. The city will serve not only as the location of these songs, but also as a character throughout the album. It was produced by Marshall Vore, who has previously worked with Ada Lea in 2020, as well as artists such as Phoebe Bridgers.

damn will serve as the opening track of the album. The slow-burning song, which tells the story of a New Year’s Eve party, builds up to an anthemic and emotive ending. It was released alongside a visual directed by Monse Muro, with evocative and beautiful choreography that tells the story of a young couple through movement.

three and a half stars

Hamish Hawk – The Mauritian Badminton Doubles Champion, 1973 (Gemma):

Edinburgh based artist Hamish Hawk, whose sound channels early 80s indie, has released his new track The Mauritian Badminton Doubles Champion, 1973. He has also announced his new album, which is titled ‘Heavy Elevator’ and will be released on 17th September.

The idea for the song came to Hawk during a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral in London

His previous singles Caterpillar and Calls To Tiree were both added to the BBC 6 Music playlist, and it seems likely that The Mauritian Badminton Doubles Champion, 1973 will receive similar success, with the song being premiered on BBC 6Music by Steve Lamacq.

The idea for the song came to Hawk during a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Hawk thought deeply about the designer Christopher Wren’s legacy, referencing him throughout the lyrics (“Christopher Wren would smile down on me”).

Hawk was inspired to use the song to pave his own legacy. This led him to tackle a wide range of ambitious topics within the song’s three minute and thirty-eight second runtime, including life, family, marriage and death.

four stars

Maxwell Varey – Psycho (Kiah)

New indie artist, Maxwell Varey, has released his second single Psycho after launching his solo career last summer in 2020. Influenced by artists such as Tame Impala and Tom Misch, Varey creates an interesting blend of sounds through his DIY sound.

In Psycho, Varey incorporates an electronic and psychedelic sound, creating a calming and gentle atmosphere alongside an upbeat rhythm. The song discusses the manipulative powers people can use to evoke emotions in other people. Varey explains how, “it’s strange how psychology works, and I wanted to convey that within a song. It’s as if manipulation can go beyond fiction, and in some ways the viewer can find themselves equally as manipulated as the characters in a show.”

At just eighteen Varey has explored the Manchester music scene with his previous band before embarking on a solo career with his blend of indie pop. Psycho was written and produced by Varey himself and then mastered by Christian Wright at Abbey Road Studios.

At the beginning of his music career, Varey shows potential to develop his sound and style to become a big part of the indie music scene.

four stars

KAP – Don’t Let Me Go (Kiah)

Inspired by UK garage and contemporary R&B music, new artist KAP has released her new single Don’t Let Me Go. Being based here in Nottingham, KAP’s new track was debuted on BBC Introducing Midlands before it’s official release later that week. KAP also performed Don’t Let Me Go at the Nusic Future Session studio which is hosted at the Metronome in Nottingham.

Reminiscent of a 2000’s mix of R&B and pop

When announcing the single KAP shared on Instagram “Fun fact, I actually wrote this song on a plane trip to LA a few years ago – so thank you to my team for bringing this track to life!”. Don’t Let Me Go was released alongside a vibrant music video that perfectly captures the atmosphere of the song.

Don’t Let Me Go uses upbeat keys and layered vocals to give it its catchy sound, reminiscent of a 2000’s mix of R&B and pop. KAP’s lyrics are simple and catchy, especially during the chorus, which gives Don’t Let Me Go a memorable sound.

Before returning to her hometown of Nottingham to release her debut single, KAP has recently explored the Bristol music scene, giving her experience of performing before starting her musical career.

four stars

Gemma Cockrell and Kiah Tooke


Featured image courtesy of Nina via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @adaleamusic and @maxwellvarey via instagram.com. No changes made to these images.

To listen to all of these tracks, check out the New Releases Roundup playlist on Spotify.

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