Reviews:: Giant Hand Starting as People

When I first heard rumblings of the hyperbolic wave that Ottawa’s Kirk Ramsey - aka Giant Hand - was surfing to shore, I was surprised how hard it was to get into his songs. His story was compelling, a young man so inspired by “The Devil and Daniel Johnston” that he decided to learn guitar and write songs simply because the artist moved him, but I just didn’t hear what everyone else was hearing.


There was nothing wrong with the music, it just seemed to be a bit too randomly put together and too unpolished to really deliver on the emotions that Ramsey presented so freely. Obviously, to progress from nothing to Coming Home in a year showed that Kirk had the natural ability to construct intriguing moments, but neither his EP or full length resulted in the multiple listens we crave from singer / songwriters. To be honest, I didn’t expect much different from Kirk on his new EP Starting as People either, but happily, this 6-song effort shows Giant Hand has a much better understanding of not only his story telling abilities - which were always strong - but also how to arrange his notes and bolster emotions in more fleshed out compositions.


After a quick scan on the liner notes, you might start giving credit to his friend and collaborator, Rolf Klausener of Acorn fame, but I’m hesitant to do so. Obviously, Rolf is well versed in adding punch to the most intimate of songs, but truthfully Ramsey has been moving forward with each release, and even as his latest songs experiment with the subtle but crucial addition of cello, guitar, vocals and even korg organ from Rolf (and drums by Pat Johnson), the songs are built on Kirk’s spine and heart (his guitar and voice accordingly). The shifts in energy and tempo certainly help ensure the listener stays engaged, but the EP never loses the intimacy required for such personal stories. Kirk makes the bold and correct decision to stand outside on his own - literally, as he recorded “From the Garden to the Cave” on his walk home from Rolf’s - and when he closes the EP with the stripped down “Solemn Little Row” you fully realize the interesting mix of confidence and insecurity that shapes his sound.


Ramsey puts his heart on record, and manages to include us all in his loneliness and never ending search for love. His optimistic look at love on “Starting as People II” and “Bones Are My Home” start quietly, allowing Kirk to reflect on what he wants from love and what his own hands have done. Remarkably, even as they patiently evolve from bedroom confessions to bedroom symphonies (especially for the rollicking last verse of Bones), the humble origins are never discarded. Ramsey and Rolf take the title of the EP to heart and never let any note lose that personal, human touch. I’m not sure Ramsey has jumped to the heights some people have pushed him, but Starting as People shows that those predicting great things for the Ottawa artist aren’t far off as I once thought.


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MP3:: Giant Hand - Bones Are My Home



Tags: Giant Hand

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 11th, 2010 at 6:29 pm and is filed under Canada, EP, Music, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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One Response to “Reviews:: Giant Hand Starting as People”

JiM July 12th, 2010 at 8:38 am

I’m looking forward to hearing this EP. I think you’re assessment of Ramsay and his output so far is accurate-I’ve always been as enthusiastic about his potential as much as what he’s actually created.

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