CD Review – Han Uil – Walking In Circles

Han Uil is a is a singer- songwriter and guitarist, formerly the frontman of symphonic rock band Antares and also vocalist of the neo-prog rock band Seven Day Hunt which featured three ex members of Egdon Heath. He is also songwriter/singer/guitarist for TumbleTown. Alongside this he has been running a solo career that has seen him release four albums since 2006. Walking In Circles will be his fifth studio effort.

It is more than fair to say that Han balances his progressive inclinations with a more mainstream rock approach. He doesn’t do this by numbers though, there’s not much resorting to the alternation of styles between individual tracks – “here’s the rocker, here’s the prog”. The song crafting is more nuanced than that. Han imaginatively creates the songs combining his influences within a single track. A song might have a catchy mainstream-styled chorus but the instrumental breaks might feature a Wakemanesque moog solo or guitar solo, as on The Cult. Han manages to imbue each of the songs with a different atmosphere. Much of this is down to the quality of the writing, the songs each have a nice ebb and flow to them. If there’s a quiet opening section, the chorus will have more bite and vigour. But there is also a subtle use of different instruments to give the sound a little colour, including some great sax from Juan Ignacio Varela, some very nice flute from Sage Tichenor, and some lovely work from Valentin Sonderegger and Laura Schwarzmann on cello and violin respectively. Abel Boquera provides some telling Hammon organ moments. In fact, all the musicians bring something to the table, helping to create the tracks as songs rather than opportunities for grandstanding. Han reflects; “I try to do something different on every song that I have not done before. I don’t want any song to sound the same. I am not pretending to have done anything progressive that has never been done before. But every song should sound fresh, adventurous and relevant to me”.

The song’s subjects are quite as varied as their music. They are mostly reflective or descriptive. The track Walking In Circles is about a person who gets lost in the dense jungle and is unable to find their way out and so wanders in circles. Walking in circles should not necessarily be considered a bad thing though. It can fruitful, helping an artist to come up with new musical ideas and cope with stress. Music Loves, on the other hand, gives some clues to Han’s musical influences, from Peter Hammill and VDGG, to Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Dire Straits, and others. Once in a while you hear a little Peter Gabriel too. The songs are emotional, intelligent and thoughtful. Han is quite adept at creating images both with his lyrics and with the gradations of the music itself, the textures and atmospheres making listening to the album something of an immersive experience. “Compared to my previous albums, I think I have particularly improved as a producer and mixer. Walking in Circles is my best sounding album. Also having had a singing coach for about a year has improved my singing capabilities considerably. I can put this album on my headphones, listen to the whole lot and love it. I’m very happy that it’s out there now,” he explains

The music is very much self-contained. There are no sudden shifts in tempo, nor rangy soloing sections. The result is not claustrophobic though it is introspective and thoughtful. There is a freshness to it too, and a feeling of a determined mind at play. “I have spent a long time making it and put my heart and soul into it.” Han explains.

1. Eternally

2. It’s You Now

3. Walking in Circles

4. Love Can’t Be Made

5. Hold On

6. Ring the Bells

7. One in a Million

8. The Cult

9. Music Loves

Han Uil – vocals, guitar

With:

Sander Zoer – drums

Juan Ignacio Varela – saxophone

Jaap-Sip Faber – bass

Guests:

Peter H. Boer – bass

Aldo Adema – guitar, bass

Sage Tichenor – flute

Valentin Sonderegger – cello

Laura Schwarzmann – violin

Abel Boquera – Hammond

Release date: 16th June, 2022

The album is distributed by: Dutch Music Works

Formats: CD & digital

http://hanuil.com/

https://www.facebook.com/hanuilmusician/

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