Album review - Ryan's Reviews, USA
Andrew Handrick: Distractions (2011)
June 2, 2012 by Ryan from Ryan's Reviews in Music Reviews.
Andrew Handrick (Vocals, Guitar)
Andrew Handrick's DISTRACTIONS makes we want to take a nap, before anyone freaks out, I'm not saying DISTRACTIONS is boring. It's calming, soothing, and dreamlike. Handrick describes his music as indy/folk, and guess that would be about the best easily assignable label for it. Handrick, a guitar, and a microphone, that's the ingredient list for DISTRACTIONS. There are rarely even any overdubs; I'm sure listening to Handrick performing these songs live would sound very very similar to DISTRACTIONS.
DISTRACTIONS is a very simple album with some complex themes. It is just Handrick and his
guitar, singing about the things songwriters sing about; happiness, girls, love, etc.
There's nothing that is really that different about DISTRACTIONS than most other
indy / folk singer / songwriter's albums; there's no crazy guitar shredding or odd dubstep
breaks or anything out of the ordinary, and that's good.
This is an album that will be greatly appreciated by those listeners that appreciate this genre of music,
because it does exactly what it is supposed to do, and it does it well.
Handrick's voice is calming and strong. While he's not doing anything outrageous with his performance (again, that would be strange for this genre) like any operatic solos or falsetto, Handrick's voice carries his music perfectly. His voice - which on rare occasion is backed up by his own voice doing background work, but is mostly just a single copy of Handrick - works really well with the acoustic guitar work he puts in. The guitar is mostly lightly strummed chords, nothing crazy, but it works and it fitting for what DISTRACTIONS is doing. There are occasional scales and riffs to break up the chords, and it works.
As a songwriter, Handrick again shines. His themes are mostly what you'd expect from this type of album, love and life and whatnot, but his does have some skill with the wordplay. I especially liked this bit from "Good Hearted Girl": You're a good hearted man / Never came with a plan / Just an honest word / In a dishonest world / Born on the 4th of a lie.
I felt that DISTRACTIONS could have been a bit stronger if it was not a one-man show. While I really like Handrick's voice, and he is a good guitarist, I really felt that a lot of the songs might benefit from some bass and drums to accompany them. I realize that this is probably not what Handrick does - he's a singer / songwriter, a man with a guitar and some lyrics - but some of the songs felt "flat" to me. The times that DISTRACTIONS does have some background singing adds depth, and I think that the album as whole would be stronger if there was more to it. Maybe not even the full band approach, maybe if there were just more overdubs, more layers of guitar, that might do it. I know that means that hearing DISTRACTIONS live would not be the same as hearing DISTRACTIONS on CD, but you don't have to recreate everything live One of the things that makes Smashing Pumpkins' SIAMESE DREAM so powerful is the fact that there are layers and layers and layers of music going on there. Sure, DISTRACTIONS doesn't have to be an indy shoegaze album, it doesn't have to have a wall of sound, but a bit more depth would suit it well.
Overall, DISTRACTIONS is a very pretty album. It is soothing, it is calming, and it is nice to listen to. It does what an indy / folk album should, and will be well appreciated by fans of that particular genre. For those of us that aren't so much into folk, it may be a bit underwhelming. Since I enjoyed the album even though folk isn't a genre I listen to much, I'm sure that those people that DO enjoy folk will love DISTRACTIONS.
Overall 6.5 / 10
Album Review - JP's Music Blog, USA
Irish singer/songwriter Andrew Handrick has recently released his second self-financed
independent album entitled 'Distractions'. The 10-song, acoustic album was also
recorded and produced by Handrick at his home studio in Italy.
The album is great to listen to when you just want to kick-back and relax as Handrick's vocals in 'Make It Right'
and 'Yellow River' put you right as ease with your problems.
You can feel Andrew spill his heart out on 'Forever' as his lyrics just fit in perfectly with his acoustic guitar.
The song 'Distractions' gives off a protest-folk vibe, while the contrast of 'Just For Tonite' gives us a warm, gentle feeling of love.
The album closes with that laid-back sounds of 'Bourdon Smiles' as you will surely press repeat to hear this album again.
Album Review - 2 U I Bestow, Music Blog, Peter N, Ireland
Brimming with charm, Andrew Handrick's stripped back album
has been my late Summer evening soundtrack. 'Distractions' is
all about the lyrics, Andrew's vocals and the sentimentality in the songs.
I really love the charm and qualities of this album. It has probably taken
Andrew Handrick a number of years to compose the ten tracks on his
second album entitled 'Distractions'. However it took three nights to
self-record them using just the one mic and adding the backing vocals. While
the recorded standard is noticeably below par the quality of the songs shine through.
Andrew has this 'Elliott Smith' - esque softness to his vocals which are
very pleasing on the ears. The vocals also bring to life the inter-personal
lyrics and stories being told within the ten tracks of 'Distractions'.
The title track and the album closer 'Bourbon Smiles' are two of the standout
tracks of the album. There's a lot of positivity on the album with songs
like 'A New Moon Today' and the opening track 'A Little Piece of Happiness'.
The most important aspect of 'Distractions' is that the songs have this
ability to immerse you into the song. When I listen to songs like 'Forever'
and 'Just For Tonight' I'm completely immersed within the vocals, charm
and sentimentality of the songs. Very few artists have the ability to do this
but Andrew Handrick is one of them.
There are limits to the sounds created by pleasant vocals and acoustic
guitar. While I wouldn't be in favour of a full band sound I feel the
addition of strings on certain tracks would've added to the mood.
Andrew Handrick - Distractions [10 out of 12]
Album Review - Musicreview.com - August 2007
A collection of mellow tunes with elements of southern rock style melodies can be heard through out this album with the first track (Miss Califoria) kicks in with with a hypnotic grung tone on the vocals sounds a bit like early Smashing Pumpkins nice laid back strumming coming from the guitar and a pop cultured beat to gel it together, (Time) this tune has nice flowing rythem to it with uplifting vocals and a lazy groove.
(Come Around) this has nice upbeat melodie, the vocals sound really well but the guitar seems to be cutting into the mix too much but sounds well, (Learning Curve) this tune has a nice feel to it vocals are placed very well with a nice ambient feel chorus has a catchy theme with a driving melodie (90 Miles An Hour) you can feel a nice summer tone from this tune a real country rock feel with some great vocals and some great dynamics in the verses.
(City Morn') this tune has laid back feel with some nice lyrics it's great to hear songs like this from a Dublin artist it has more of a American tone but cool. (Ground Down) there is more of a folk/rock tone with a nice melodie like a 60's San Francisco song, great vocals and composed very well. (Stolen) Andrews deep vocal in this song works really well a bit like Lou Reed, the latin rim shot is nice too and lifts to a cool rock tune again the dynamics are fantastic great song.
(An Answer) this is a more upbeat happy tone song with some great vocals but the mix maybe over eq'ed. (Wendy) here is a fantastic grooving tune with a upbeat country rock feel vocals sound great with a very friendly radio tone.
Overall the album sounds great for a self produced product but has the making of a fantastic album.
review by T.Halpin
STAR RANK: ****** EXCELLENT
“The True Riches Of Life”
ANDREW HANDRICK a folk-like singer/songwriter and do-it-yourselfer just recently relocated to California from Ireland offers a great album, "The True Riches Of Life." The album generally deals with life experiences, relationships and every-day happenings neatly packed into 10 tracks. In each track you will find acoustic-like guitars, drums and bass fronted by gentle folksy vocals, some of which you'll find yourself singing along to (such as "Time" - one of my favorite tracks). The music though it has a folk element would also appeal to those tuned into the softer rock styles of music (bands such as the Goo Goo Dolls and Soul Asylum come to mind). All in all, it's a great album that will perk up any soft rock/folk rock collection. [Wednesday Elektra]
The True Riches of Life (2006) Andrew Handrick Unsigned
A bundle of folk tunes with a gentle but uplifting effect comprises the feel of Irish singer / songwriter Andrew Handrick’s new album, The True Riches of Life. Handrick’s songwriting remains soulful and open throughout, but the reflective nature of the tracks does not take away the poppy attraction of the songs, something which draws you in and captivates you.
Highlights of the album include Learning Curve (which is available for download at the bottom of this interview), and the powerful City Morn’, as well as the intro track, Miss California. A country feel can be heard in the closing song, Wendy, something which adds further flavour and diversity to the album.
Handrick shies away from openly borrowing from his cited influences (which include Elvis and The Smashing Pumpkins), and his style is plesantly unique. Although the album has some weaker points (one of which includes the slightly flat production, which lets the songwriting down a little on occasion), it holds up to be a solid, well written album; something which the now-California based singer / songwriter can be confident in building upon through his live performances
This is one great CD. If you don't own a copy yet then buy one now! and start enjoying some great music and help support the Indie Artist . And if you already own this CD you know what I am talking about, Right! Cool then buy one for a friend.
The True Riches Of Life
Andrew Handrick has spent the last 12 years of his life struggling through the genesis of this, his first collection of original alternative rock and folk-flavoured songs. Andrew hails from Dublin, Ireland where his musical life began but he currently lives in Austin, Texas; a fantastic music city and one in which he hopes to continue to shape his career. Andrew credits such diverse bands as The Rolling Stones, REM, The Who, The Velvet Underground and The Jam as his influences. He has been a singer/songwriter for the past four years, before which he played in and wrote songs for the bands Grover and Booster in Ireland. As a founding member of these bands he recorded a session for the famous Dave Fanning show on 2FM National Radio in Dublin. In April 2005 Ireland’s favourite music magazine, Hot Press, named Andrew’s CD “Pick of the Fortnight” - a distinctive honour indeed. An accomplished musician, Andrew plays guitars, bass and keyboards on The True Riches of Life and produced it with his engineer and bazouki player, Andreas Nolan.
I imagine that Andrew Handrick, like most of us, has traveled a challenging road stumbling over self-doubt and a broken heart now and again while accumulating life experiences to write about. His efforts were not in vain because this is a lovely, reflective and subdued look into Andrew’s world that is reminiscent of an Elliott Smith record but far less tortured. It’s perfect fare for a rainy day when you’re curled up on the couch with your favourite book. His music is heartfelt but unobtrusive. I can’t think of a single artist I could compare his voice to as it’s quite unique and one which might be an acquired taste for some as he sings in different registers on parts of The True Riches of Life as in the songs “City Morn’” and “Stolen” (its music is very striking) and the lower registers aren’t his strength because his voice just sounds flat. However, on the whole this record illustrates that Andrew holds great promise as an artist. Among the nine songs on this CD my favourite is the melodic yet plaintive “Miss California”:
“If this was the last time, would you let me know? If this was the last time, would I see you go. Don’t answer…It’s a yes and it feels like silence.”
I also really like the more effervescent “Come Around”, the reflective love song “Learning Curve” and the aching “Ground Down” and though I love the optimistic music of “Wendy” I just don’t see how lyrically and thematically it fits in with the rest of the album.
The True Riches of Life is somewhat flawed but it is those flaws that make it interesting and I’ll look forward to hearing new songs from Andrew Handrick in the future.
Andrew’s CD can be purchased at his official website at www.andrewhandrick.com and isound.com/music/andrew_handrick. You can also drop by www.myspace.com/andrewhandrick and tell him what you think of it yourself.
Pick of the Forthnight
Perhaps a man with a better chance of cutting a swathe through the morass of singer-songwriters is Andrew Handrick from Wicklow. He has a deep, sometimes frail voice ideal for the fragile, reflective songs he writes. Most of the instruments on his CD have been played by himself, with a litle help from Andreas Nolan. `City Morn' gets into a real soft-rock groove after an indecisive start, musically and lyrically depicting a musical landscape of the dawn with all its hopes and fears. `Learning Curve' is more acoustic but marries Handrick's literate lyrics to an arrangement that always keeps you guessing. 'An Answer' is more untogether and suffers accordingly, especially in the vocals. Handrick occasionally let's a whine into his voice that he might be better off dropping, but other than that, he might be well worth watching. Early days indeed.
Jackie Hayden – Hot Press - First Cuts
21st April 2005