Hands are not meant to sweat this much, barring an acute stress response from the sympathetic nervous system. I know this because, in yet another attempt to distract myself from the vacuous hole that is a blank page, I Googled it. They have been oozing impressively for nearly two hours, which seems implausible at best considering the current situation should warrant no such physiological reaction. Obsessing over just the right opening for this artist review/bio/confessional rant has lead me to a state of confusion and anxiety. It’s a feeling I’ve come to accept as a symptom of being in proximity to Rebekah Hawker and her circle of prodigious friends and musical colleagues. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of sharing stages and studios with many of them, Rebekah most of all, and each time it is an inspiring and humbling experience. In a seemingly impossible cycle of improvement, she and her cohorts continue to take massive leaps forward in talent and songwriting ability. It’s an angelic crew of gifted wunderkinds that a marginally successful hack like myself would love to hate. But they’re all just so...fucking...likeable.
Arguably, the defining characteristics of a modern musical artist with breakout potential are aesthetic in nature. Carefully chosen fonts are assigned to enigmatic monikers and pseudonyms; vowels optional, excessive punctuation encouraged. In this environment meticulous stage curation is a limiting factor, with the correct of fabric and lighting acting as key nutrients for rapid stage eutrophication. Whether this is a hard truth or simply the ramblings of an aging musician, one thing is certain: Rebekah’s defining characteristic is that she, inarguably, needs no such frivolities to capture and hold one’s attention. That ability to command an audience is a quality that most of us do not possess and yet every great performer must. And it is in her contrasts that Rebekah manages to achieve this perfectly. On one hand her lyrics and melodies are a serious affair, evoking powerful images that resonate unbiasedly. They can be fierce or they can be fragile, but they can never be taken lightly. They speak of a life lived, not imagined, giving an authenticity to the ups and downs strewn throughout her musical tales. Yet on the other hand, her audience interaction and stage persona are so wonderfully light and refreshing that she transforms what could be a sombre experience in a joyful, cathartic journey. Humble, self deprecating, earnest and consistently hilarious, she smiles often and easy, and it takes only one look through a typical crowd to see that it’s contagious. Sometimes, a performer can be said to never leave a dry eye in the house. With Rebekah, there is never a frown.
There is an undeniable sense when watching her perform that you’ve been gifted that rare chance to see an artist before they were famous. Someone you will tell your friends and colleagues about, subtly bragging years later that you were there first. Yet in describing her, it’s always with a slight vagueness and allegory. It is so easy to liken and compare her to artists we hold dear to our hearts, in more of a spiritual homage than direct similarity, for though Rebekah may be singular we can all find something familiar and comforting within her music. She coaxes out vivid memories and emotions, her music amorphously accompanying them as though there all along. Somehow, Rebekah Hawker exists as part of our past, present, and undoubtedly our future. Are you listening?
While watching my favourite television shows as a kid, I would invest so much emotion in the main characters that I formed a weird habit. Whenever situations would get tense, awkward, hurtful or dangerous, I’d quickly change the channel for a moment or two, sparing myself from the pain, but fueling a lingering regret that comes with avoidance. Well, that’s Rebekah. You invest. You feel. You find yourself leaning forward. Are you staring? It’s personal, you shouldn’t stare. I think she knows you’re staring. It hurts, so you look away. But you’ll look back. You will always look back.
Dan Trickett is a freelance cruciverbalist and thinks Rebekah sounds like an equal-parts mix of the following artists: Joni Mitchell, Tove Lo, Elvis Costello, Patsy Cline, Courtney Barnett, Sam Cooke, Holly McNarland and Martha Wainwright.