(Home Normal, 2016)
It’s totally unfair to tackle an album like Love Retained as an outside listener and then imposing your thoughts upon it in some sort of “review”-like form, so let’s get it out of the way first that I’m not really reviewing Love Retained. These words here on this “review” site are misdirection, and the only possible response to reading them, if you really do, is to click on the link above or embedded widget below and head to the product page. There you can not only purchase or stream Love Retained, but you can also read a bit about what was going through its creator’s head while in the time up to its completion.
Ian Hawgood has been around for a while, but I’d lost sight of him. A quick glance at my iTunes library reveals early releases The Fire Will Die at Night and Enfants Ruraux, but the latter was released in 2007, and that was ten years ago now. (How on earth has it been ten years since 2007?? Oh, right, orbiting the sun, time marching, etc.) He’s been busy – included in his dealings was the advent of a handful of microlabels, among them Home Normal, based mainly from Hawgood’s one time home of Tokyo. Love Retained is, according to the artist himself, his first and last release for the label.
Crafted as a response to severe anxiety brought on by depression, Love Retained is exactly what its title suggests, an ode to family, friends, those closest to you, and, specifically for Hawgood, “the amazing women in my life.” It is a series of unadorned piano pieces, mistakes intact, intimately played and recorded. Even though the playback is sparse, the composition is obviously labored over. Each second of Love Retained is imbued fully – and I truly mean fully – with the sense of love and thankfulness overwhelming Hawgood at any given moment. Each piece is a tribute, a love letter, an apology, and an example of the artist’s soul laid bare. The record is overpowering in its simplicity and elegance.
Consider too that all profits for the album go to Mind, a “mental health charity [in the UK] that do incredible work.” Help Ian Hawgood help others like himself.