Dutch singer-songwriter Kashmere Hakim started the summer by releasing his debut EP, The Hillsinger, and is following it up with a handful of festival appearances around Europe. The panel took a listen to see what all the fuss is about.
Alice Sage: Kashmere Hakim is an exercise in balance. Understated, without being boring – melodic and sentimental without being trite. Weird, persistent cowboy themes and Dylan-esque meandering lines create a brilliant mix of strange and familiar. The EP benefits from the simplicity of no more than two accompanying sounds to each song. Harmonica, guitar and vocals, or maybe a short burst of violin to keep that wild west feel. Gentle finger-picking and a mature, assured, confident lyrical style adds complexity to what could be just a very basic sound and unremarkable voice. A genuine talent and desire to inhabit a character and tell a story is a must for any lyricist. Hakim manages that with unassuming aplomb. Lovely.
Anna Mellor: Kashmere Hakim is an Amsterdam based singer-songwriter with a very 60’s American feel. His music is Bob Dylan-esque but much easier to listen to. Led by the lyrics, accompanied by simple guitar finger-picking and Kashmere’s quite unusual voice. Stretch beyond the EP, and the highlight of the songs on his myspace page is probably Johnny on Holiday as I think the added violin and more spirited feel to the song suits the style of his voice more than the melancholy and fragile songs elsewhere. Overall a promising start for this singer-songwriter, with an EP out just in time for summer, many could take a shine to his relaxed a breezy folk songs.
Ian Parker: Kashmere Hakim cites the likes of Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger as his key influences, and its easy to see why. He plays simple, straighforward folk music – just a man and his guitar – and leans towards the same sort of storytelling in his songwriting. The result is pleasant enough. Free People is short but whistles along like early Dylan, while John Henry shows a debt to the same folk tales that inspired so much of Seeger’s work. But Hakim’s six-track EP meanders a little – Eastern Shore has too many awkward lines to sit comfortably – and for all the promise here, Hakim needs to come up with a few more hooks to make such a simple sound stand out from the crowd.