Hawksley Workman For Him and The Girls

This eccentric young Torontonian has something special to share with you, but he wants to test you first. That must be why Workman placed his most annoying, yodel-heavy song (“Maniacs”) as the lead-off track on his otherwise extremely promising debut album. Following that are quirky, romantic excursions into Workman’s wonderful world, with musical accompaniment similar to a less overbearing Rufus Wainwright or a new wave power pop band fronted by Rheostatic Martin Tielli (brother Doug appears here). Comparisons could also be drawn to collaborator John Southworth, whose last album Workman helmed. Workman’s operatic vocals make his narratives even more colourful, and when singing a more straightforward melody (“Safe and Sound”), there’s no denying his pure pop skills. In “Paper Shoes,” he sings, “Singing is about sexual confidence,” and he belts it out with enough swagger that you have to believe him. For Him and the Girls isn’t a pop masterpiece, but it’s only a few grades short. Workman’s ambitious adventure is well worth the time it takes to be drawn into his magical vision. (Isadora)