Gil Hockman – Dolorous

Review by: Floris Groenewald (@Flrsi)

Don’t worry – I also didn’t know what “Dolorous” means. Gil Hockman explains that it refers to “feeling or expressing great sorrow or distress”, and was once used to describe his voice in a review of his previous EP, All The Things.

The new disc opens with the title track, and I must say, “Dolorous” sums it up well. With lines like “I suppose I need some looking after” and “I know I have felt the pain of standing in your doorway” sung by Gil’s above-mentioned and previously-described voice, it definitely kicks off the album on a melancholic note. But the next track, I’m Only Here, combines breakup imagery with a more complex, electric and eclectic soundscape, reminiscent of electro-indie rock. It switches the album (and Hockman’s discography) into the next gear – which includes dance and indie influences, and reminds me of bands like Tapes ‘n Tapes, The XX, Wolf Parade and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, with hints of Tegan and Sarah in places. Yet it still feels real, emotional, and handmade.

Gil Hockman by Ross Garret

Gil Hockman by Ross Garret

The rest of the album continues zigzagging between emotions and instrumental palettes, while remaining a cohesive product. Highlights are Night Bird (with only one chorus which repeats between instrumental sections for 4 minutes), Seasons (a nostalgic yet upbeat and catchy song), Fatherland (rarely does a song change this much from beginning to end), and the quiet (trumpet-laced) album closer Far Away.

Dolorous shifts Gil’s music (and career) into another gear, delivers something new and unexpected (though identifiably Hockman), provides a broad spectrum of songs, sounds and feelings, and ultimately feels like a well-rounded, personal expression of a melancholic personality. It both rocks and rolls, and it’s incredibly diverse both lyrically and musically. If you liked Gil’s previous work, I’m sure Dolorous will be a welcome and appreciated continuation, and I’d recommend it to any newcomers who likes the above-mentioned bands.

Now let’s see if he’ll call his next album “melancholic rock”…

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