Andrew Neil has been described as an outsider musical artist and compared to Daniel Johnston. Words like “raw” and “unpolished” are used to help draw word pictures for his unique sound. “Hope” is an example of Neil’s special contribution to the music world.
Neil has an eventful biography — to say the least. He was a star high school athlete, before going to West Point. However, a car accident, which left him with a severe head injury, derailed his athletic plans. This auto accident head injury resulted in a mental illness that sent him for recovery at a state hospital.
Call it therapy, or term it a new life calling, but after that horrific accident, Neil began to write and perform songs. Since the 2009 car crash, it’s estimated he’s written approximately 400 songs. What’s beautifully mysterious about Neil’s new vocation is that he’s also an untrained musician. Don’t ask him what chords he’s playing or the key he’s playing in because he doesn’t know.
Stream – https://soundcloud.com/andrewneil/
Nothing seems to go smoothly for poor Neil because he was hospitalized again in 2014 because of a psychotic flare-up and remained there until 2017. What life’s circumstances meant for the bad, though, Neil turned into something good. While in the hospital for this stint, he wrote a whopping 70 songs, 11 of which landed on an album he titled Code Purple-Andrew Neil. It’s been said this is the only album that’s ever been written and recorded in a state hospital. Later, Neil recorded a proper studio album, Merry Go Round.
Neil is hard at work recording his second studio album, and presumably the single “Hope” will be included on this album, which is said to be called Freak. “Hope” begins with strummed guitar and chime-y keyboard. After this pop-y instrumental intro, Neil begins to describe a woman that is like an angel. At least she has the face of an angel. “Her name is Hope,” he tells us. This could be an actual girl’s name. Then again, he could be ascribing hopefulness through a female personification. Of course, a person can also bring hope. We’re not sure, which is perfectly fine.
The vocal his tender and vulnerable, much like hope itself. The outro finds Neil singing a chorus that repeats the word ‘hope.’ This song may remind you of gentler 90s alternative rock. It sounds a little like something Gin Blossoms or the Goo Goo Dolls might have recorded back in the day.
A song like “Hope” is heartening, in that it is so overtly sincere. Neil is like Linus in the pumpkin patch during The Great Pumpkin: There’s not an insincere bone in his body, or so it seems. He’s singing to a hope, while extolling hope’s virtues. It’s so passionate, it’s nearly spiritual. In fact, one could make the same argument when describing Jesus Christ. In First Peter, it talks about how the Father “in his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” It’s unlikely Neil meant any strictly Christian message to be drawn from his lyric, but his words nevertheless parallel the Gospel message at the very least.
It’s difficult to find much hope in this dark modern world, so anytime one finds a song about hope, that’s a good thing.