Now Playing: Chuck Hawthorne’s ‘Fire Out Of Stone’

Image courtesy of Chuck Hawthorne

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Chuck Hawthorne is prepping to drop a new album on July 15th.  It’s titled Fire Out Of Stone.  But first, for those not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.

Image courtesy of Chuck Hawthorne

Chuck Hawthorne

Hawthorne is a veteran and an Austin songwriter.  His riffin’ resume includes his full-length premiere platter, Silver Line, and extensive touring in both the US and Europe.  His signature sound is a musical mix of multiple genres, including Americana, bluegrass, country, and folk.

Fire Out Of Stone

Fire Out Of Stone is Hawthorne’s sophomore release.  It features Hawthorne on acoustic guitar and vocals.  He is backed by Ray Bonneville (harmonica), Marian Brackney (fiddle and viola), Julie Carter (cello), co-producer Ron Flynt (bass and baritone guitar), Libby Koch (harmony), Geoff Queen (steel guitar and dobro), Ray Rodriguez (drums and percussion), co-producer Walt Wilkins (high strung guitar and percussion).

This upcoming audio offering includes often poignant and timeless pieces that were just waiting to be discovered.  Here Hawthorne focuses on themes of healing, transition, and “transformative survival.”  In a press release, Hawthorne explained the album’s origins thusly:

“Edith Dobson had thoughtfully sent her late husband’s final album to me from Switzerland. It wasn’t an album I wanted playing in the background . . . it deserved a genuine listen with a full spirit.  Late one night, after all our traveling musician houseguests made it to bed, I put Richard Dobson’s last record on and discovered the song, ‘I Will Fight No More Forever.’ I probably listened to it 20 times . . .”

He continued: “The next day, I realized Dobson had gifted me the theme of my next album.  I started looking into my back catalog selecting songs about survival, transition and moving on – crucible songs – making Fire Out Of Stone.  It turns out I had quite a few to pick from.”

Track by track

This 10-track album of almost all original material opens on “Such Is Life (C’est La Vie).”  The album’s first single, it is an exceptional, upbeat song-story of a biker’s final ride.

The second selection is “Amarillo Wind.”  It is a quieter, emotional, almost heart-wrenching recollection of both love and loss in West Texas.  It’s vaguely reminiscent of early, lesser-known Gordon Lightfoot material.

By the time “Arrowhead & Porcupine Clam” is underway, Hawthorne’s signature sound is quite clear.  “Sara’s All The Way” is a somewhat bittersweet biographical cut.

“New Lost Generation” makes a socio-political statement but it is sincere.  Hawthorne has long since earned the right to write something like this (unlike some other artists attempting to “jump on the boat”).

“Worthy Of The Sea” seems almost overshadowed by other tracks but works well enough nonetheless and fits well on this particular release.  “Broken Wire” is a pensive musical metaphor.  It just works.  (What else do you need to know, right?)

“Broken Good” picks things up a bit.  It’s certainly got the potential to be a good travelin’ track.  It would also be at home on TV or in a movie soundtrack.  The somber “Standing Alone”  is both personal and simplistically poetic.  Here Hawthorne sings about losing someone important in an auto accident.

“I Will Fight No More Forever” is a cover of a song by the late Richard Dobson.  As previously mentioned, this song not only gave Hawthorne purpose and musical direction but also holds a special meaning to him.

Overall, this disc includes music reminiscent of Townes Van Zandt and song-stories similar to the work of James McMurtry or even deep cut, Nebraska-era Bruce Springsteen material.  It is a compilation of carefully culled, personal and obviously honest songs whose time has come.  So check out Chuck Hawthorne’s Fire Out Of Stone, and listen for the  enduring whisper of the “Amarillo Wind.”