Old Cosmos co-producer Rolf Klausener (The Acorn) on the uncanny intimacy of Giant Hand.
I felt an instant kinship with [Giant Hand’s] Kirk Ramsay’s voice. The friendship came later.
His voice was like a firm and friendly handshake drifting off the stage, warbling and bare. I don’t think he played more than three chords throughout his entire set and yet I was kind of baffled when he told me he’d only started writing not six months earlier.
His lyrics weren’t swaddled in overwrought metaphors. He told us about his physical pain, his human envy, his quiet yearning for love, and his disappointments. It was far from saccharine, but still deeply vulnerable, and in a way that a mindfulness app could never be. He seemed to hit that magic line where sermon meets confessional, offering us listeners an opportunity for personal reflection on our own existential discomforts and misalignments.
I introduced myself after the show, told him I liked his songs, and we took it from there.
Old Cosmos was our second time recording together, and my first co-production with Jonas [Bonnetta of Evening Hymns]. I’d recorded my last album at Joner’s gorgeous wilderness studio, Port William Sound, and was familiar with the kind of effortless creativity it elicits. The sessions had all the regular moments you could expect: a lot of laughter, bleary-eyed late night takes, experimentation. But the first day in, I remember Jonas experiencing the same sense of bewilderment I’d felt the first time I worked with Kirk.
“He’s just letting us tear into his songs,” said Jonas in reference to how Kirk would let us restructure everything from arrangements and chords to instrumentation. But the heart of Kirk’s songs lies in those lilting melodies carrying the kind of thoughts most of us would rather not vocalize.
I think that’s what I keep coming back to when I think back on those sessions: Kirk’s uncanny ability to let go. Again, I think it comes down to some epic form of vulnerability. When I listen back to Old Cosmos now, I hear someone saying, “Go ahead, re-imagine these songs any way you want. I wrote ‘em, I sang ‘em. They don’t live in here anymore.”