Jealous of the Birds: Five Essential Cat Power Songs
Jealous of the Birds' Naomi Hamilton (photo courtesy of Big Hassle PR)
[December 2018 update: Cat Power wraps up her autumn tour of the States, returning to New York to play Brooklyn Steel on December 18. In March, Jealous of the Birds' Naomi Hamilton is back in Austin to play SXSW 2019.]
Naomi Hamilton, who records as Jealous of the Birds, was only 19 when she released her much-praised 2016 debut album, Parma Violets. What's even more impressive is that the Belfast-based musician had only begun writing her own songs about a year earlier. Before finding her own voice as an artist, she covered songwriters like Elliott Smith or Bob Dylan.
Her 2018 EP, vividly titled The Moths of What I Want Will Eat Me in My Sleep, takes a few of her older Parma Violets tracks, like "Russian Doll" and "Trouble in Bohemia," and reinvigorates them. It also features a new Jealous of the Birds single, "Plastic Skeletons," a wiry, rocking incantation that she performed during a recent FUV Live session — and a song that offers up the provocative image of "Notebooks filled with dirty poems/All slanted like hipbones of women."
Hamilton's husky alto and voluptuous lyricism have raised inevitable comparisons to Cat Power. As it turns out, Hamilton is a big fan of Chan Marshall and explains why in her "Five Essential Cat Power Songs" for FUV Essentials.
Jealous of the Birds' Naomi Hamilton: Five Essential Cat Power Songs:
"Manhattan," Sun (2012)
I remember how poignant it was listening to this song on a recent trip to New York. Lyrically it's pretty melancholic, but the piano's chord progression gives it this cinematic, swirling feel. I also love how the digital and analogue drums kind of compete with each other.
"Lived In Bars," The Greatest (2006)
This one's insanely evocative of Cat Power's gift for storytelling in songs. The horns on this track are incredible and I love the lazy swing that ebbs and flows.
"Werewolf," You Are Free (2003)
So hauntingly stunning. It's like a blend of Tom Waits and Nirvana's 'Something In the Way' with all those eerie strings and brittle guitar. The intimacy of her vocals here is something that's stayed with me.
"Free," You Are Free (2003)
I love how she could have turned this into a romping rock ballad, but she keeps it so beautifully balanced and tempered by having the acoustic guitar as the song's foundation. There's so much attitude and conviction in her delivery that she doesn't need all that extra noise to attract your attention.
"No Sense," Moon Pix (1998)
This is one of those late night songs you listen to when everything's gone to hell and the day was the colour of a bruise. There's so much depth of feeling to her vocals on this. Musically disorientating, so heavy and light all at once, and disarmingly direct.
- Jealous of the Birds' Naomi Hamilton