Melbourne singer-songwriter Hayden Calnin is part of a new breed of male Aussie musicians who, with their immense vocal talent and sensitive song writing, challenge the aggressive brand of masculinity that has pervaded the stereotype of the Australian male rocker. Calnin, like Chet Faker and Matt Corby, has married heartrending vocals with lingering harmonies and atmospheric soundscapes to create an EP that is evocative, highly charged, sensual and honest.
His second EP Oh Hunter instigates immediate drama with first track Comatose. Epiphanic, unpretentious and real, Calnin uses musical minimalism to communicate an intricate poetry; his affecting baritone is supported by haunting choral harmonies and drawn out, chordal piano. Coward is another whispering ballad filled to the brim with melancholy and electronic folk. Shimmering chimes and glockenspiel craft a wistful ether punctured by rolling percussion. This constantly retreating and advancing ebb and flow manifests in delicate and intensifying musical echoes.
The power of a heavenly choir is the foundation of the haunting, passionate I Corrupt, which provides the perfect platform for Calnin’s cosmic, warm vocal range to shine. Not Good For Me transforms sparse guitars and electronic hums into an intimate, elegant and honest look at the painful, universal revelation that something we love just isn’t good for us: “There’s a girl next to me, she feels like rain/crying her eyes out all the time/speak a little louder/I could help you out if you want/but you are not good for me.”
The EP (sadly) comes to an end with Forever A Traveller. Its simple, crisp beats underpin its layered utterings allow one last glimpse at Calnin’s vast musicality. He is not just another guy riding the present wave of electronic folk, but an exceptionally gifted storyteller and vocalist, whose unnervingly honest poetry betrays an unassuming and serendipitous perceptiveness.