On 1st July Red Velvet are releasing their new EP If Hawks Were Doves, which is a follow-up and companion project to last year’s Darkness & the Angels. Like the previous EP, this one explores the positive and negative forces, both inside and outside us, that bear upon our lives.
In the case of Darkness & the Angels, these forces were the pain and despair of dealing with cancer (Ride of Darkness) and grief and loss (Self-Storage), the perils and injustices of migration (The Fourth Freedom), as well as - in a more positive vein - the optimism felt at the end of WWII (the recently re-released single After the War). Grown-up stuff then, songs written based on Deirdre and Les’ own life experiences.
If Hawks Were Doves
It’s fitting that After the War was re-released before the issue of this new EP, as it’s theme of optimism and moving towards the light is taken up in a number of the songs here. The lead track, The Last Thing We Need Is Another Love Song, is - of course - a love song, written by Les, ironically suggesting that no more love songs are needed when there’s so much else that’s important to write about, yet concluding by saying “without love we may just survive, but this living game isn’t worth the candle, only when we love are we truly alive”. Listen out for Gene’s two fine Knopfler-esque guitar solos, Deirdre’s incredible vocal performance, drawing every drop of meaning from the words, and the delightful harmonies towards the end of the song. The band have released a video of the song to coincide with the EP release. See the YouTube video here:
Imposter is co-written by Deirdre and Les, referencing imposter syndrome, which they have both had to live with, as indeed have many of us, referring to it - true to the “Darkness & the Angels” theme - as a “devil who sits on my shoulder”. But the song resolves optimistically as the demon is beaten into submission. Listen out for the first ever “Red Velvet rap” by Les and Deirdre and a great keyboard solo by Gene.
This EP is the first to include songs written by another band member, Mike Udin. Getting Too Serious takes us away from the pressures of city living to the redemption offered by a trip to the coast. If the pressure gets too much we can press ‘pause’ and start again “I guess this’ll be my millionth brand new start”.By letting go of the ‘if onlys’ of regret, we can embrace the healing power of hope. Deirdre’s powerful vocals reflect the strength of redemption, Colin and Mike drive the song’s rhythm,and Gene’s honky-tonk piano and Les’s skipping banjo help us on the journey.
Still Believe in Love is about overcoming the hurt of a broken heart and getting back up, out there and still looking for love. It moves from the cynical defensiveness of “love’s just a heart getting ready to break”to opening up your heart, knowing that to give love you have to risk being hurt.
Sad Songs and Wine, like The Last Thing We Need..., is about writing songs, which is unsurprisingly a favourite topic of songwriters, Les included. It’s darker than the other song, however, bemoaning the evils of the world, which prompt the writer to withdraw into the company of the aforementioned sad songs and wine: “the songs let me forget, and the wine dulls the regret”. A big shout out here for the band’s sound engineer and producer Sam Inglis, who was responsible for conceiving the great vocal arrangement.
The EP’s title track is If Hawks Were Doves, an uplifting song driven by Colin’s solid beat with a great ragtime-style piano arrangement by Gene. Its writer Les borrows hawks and doves from political usage to muse on how the world would be a better place if we were all more dove-like and less hawk-like.
Finally, a mention for our lovely friend and fellow musician Naomi Randall, who did the amazing artwork for both this and the previous EP.