Published Feb 26, 2019One of a kind singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman has relocated to Montreal in the years since his last album, 2015's Old Cheetah, teaming up with the Dears' Murray Lightburn on production to create Median Age Wasteland, a record that spins tales across countries and decades.
Workman reflects on his '80s upbringing amongst stories more suited to the here and now: the melodic guitars and falsetto of "Lazy" are rooted in a present-day relationship, while "Birds in Train Stations" finds Workman pondering the motivations behind escaping our daily lives on holiday. The album features country and folk influences, yet also isn't afraid to present grandiose numbers, such as "1983," a track whose passion recalls a Supertramp song.
Only Workman could write "To Receive," a rollicking, slide guitar-inflected history of the United Church's vote on gay ministers, which features a homophobic "retired pharmaceutical baron." He shifts from story to story with ease, one of the most potent being lead single, "Battlefords," a swift guitar led number that harkens back to his upbringing, featuring the clever lyric, "They say that wealth is revealed in the teeth, that's why we're all wearing braces."
Workman's more subdued moments are welcome too, as they create space for his writing to carry the song even more than usual. This can be heard in "Skinny Wolf," a striking portrait of a battered individual whose resilience is found in love. Median Age Wasteland strikes a fine balance between nostalgia and a gaining of insight into both the past and present. (Isadora)