At the time Giant Hand’s Kirk Ramsay allowed himself to be subjected to a fresh-faced music blogger’s asinine questions, he’d been playing guitar for less than two years, had released his highly acclaimed debut album, Coming Home, and been named one of the five hottest artists in Canada. An EP called Starting As People produced by The Acorn’s Rolf Klausener followed in 2011, and for the last six years, Giant Hand has been the first name on my annual list of highly-anticipated returns.
“Key On A String” opens a new chapter for Giant Hand, filling out his nervous, off-kilter folk with psychedelic textures and a full-band sound (Klausener and Evening Hymns’ Jonas Bonnetta produced and performed on the song along with Pat Johnson of Silkken and Telecomo, and Cuff The Duke’s Paul Lowman). Six years may seem like an eternity for music to gestate and form, given that Ramsay went from non-musician to debut album in less than two, but Giant Hand’s time away from the musical spotlight has been well-spent. Ramsay’s voice is assured and confident, suggesting “Key On A String” has a story to tell that’s worth hearing. “All I wanna know is what’s inside of me / Wakes me up and won’t let me sleep,” his sings with melancholic yearning, a personal admission that music is more than just a hobby or novelty for Ramsay; what’s inside of him needs to be expressed. He’s a musician, performer, and storyteller through and through. “Oh the Devil’s got a hold of me, / And I know that I’ll never be free,” is less a lament and more an acceptance.
i (heart) music, the blog that used to host the hottest artist in Canada poll, has been gone for some time now (there’s not even an online archive left to link to) , as is our spiritual predecessor blog Quick Before It Melts, but for me, excitement and anticipation over new Giant Hand music remains the same now as it did years ago. The welcome return of a long-silent artist has become a clichéd conceit, but “Key On A String” is anything but cliché; it is a fresh and fascinating first step into Giant Hand’s future.