Hamsa – Lawless, Winged and Unconfined

Album Review | Proper | Review by Liam Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

Opening with the most achingly beautiful clarinet you’re ever likely to hear, Lawless, Winged and Unconfined is an album of searing and untameable expression from a band that injects new energy into klezmer. Led by clarinettist and composer Merlin Shepherd, Hamsa clearly thrive on improvised jams to mould their infectious sound; a fact which comes into focus via the little opuses of “Soon It Will Be May”, “Sahar” and the album’s title track. Glenn Sharp provides some razor-sharp guitar as Simon Russell and Ruth Goller pound out their impressively incisive basslines. And whilst Guy Schalom’s frothy drums keep the band from flying off in all directions, it’s the liquidy Hammond organ and brawny accordion of Carol Isaacs that binds the whole thing. The zenith of the album is reached during its title track; a breathless, ever-ascending piece which owes as much to Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane as it does to traditional Jewish music. Lawless, Winged and Unconfined is, as its title suggests, a constantly ambitious album from a group of musicians who place exploration at the forefront of their performance and, thanks to the compositional prowess of Shepherd, there are plenty of intriguing nooks and crannies to plunder here.