A Hawk with a Heart: Doug Hawk’s Eleven Alive is On-line Noel Jones, www.neighborsofeaston.com 1/31/11
On 11/11/11, The Doug Hawk Proposition held a standing-room-only live recording party for their latest album, hosted by Easton’s Black & Blue. The album, Eleven Alive, is now available on line and it is a politically-conscious funk fest for the soul.
We are very fortunate to have a musical artist of this calibre among us here in Easton, and that we can actually go hear him gig for free is one of the reasons I love the Easton music scene.
If a living man could be reincarnated, or if a soul could be cloned, I would suspect that perhaps Doug Hawk is Stevie Wonder reincarnated in the body of a white boy with glasses. I also hear hints of Maxwell occasionally, and even a little Marvin Gaye. But whether he’s swinging the funk, or crooning the ballads, this boy is the real thing, and all his own.
Doug Hawk has it all going on: melody, strong chord progressions, interesting arrangements, meaningful, smart rhymes and he swings his ass off with genuine soul. One thing that typifies his original music is an ability to write and deliver lyrics and melody in a way that can make a tune about a political topic sound like a sexy, troubled love-gone-awry song. An example is Track #9, “NASA” which deals with our seemingly endless military involvement overseas, but the refrain, Remember when we did things good/remember when we used to do things good/remember when we just did good? sounds almost like someone lamenting over a failing relationship.
Track #3, “Poison in My Well” was first inspired by the Fukishima disaster in Japan, but Hawk says it seems now to apply more locally to water contamination from natural gas drilling. “The nuclear accident made me realize how tainted a lot of our world is by industrial processes, the most immediate example being the fracking happening here in Pennsylvania.” The song makes me thinks of corporate “personhood” in general, and the way it’s running roughshod over the constitutional rights of all Americans lately, but instead of sounding angry, it sounds like a spiritual appeal for brotherly love reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s album, What’s Going On?
“Heroes” (Track #4) is a rap about what “heroism” has come to represent in our culture with respect to troops and corporate interventionism overseas, when real heroism in this day and age is having enough to character to not be brainwashed by the media, to think independently, and to be willing to rebel for the right to the “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for which our nation’s forefathers were willing to fight and die.
Track #4, “Caught in a Quiet Room,” starts as a love ballad dedicating to the artist’s dying mother, that ends up up-tempo and optimistic, even after having lost her:
It’s the best and the worst of things
that the twist of this tragedy
is how something so sad can lead to so much growth
A basic dichotomy just like the front and the back of me
all alone with a memory of me and you.
Life is a mystery. Life’s more than history.
Where it has been is gone. The best thing is to move on.
There is a lot of love in this album: love of country, romantic love, love of family, brotherly love. Considering the topics tackled in this album, it’s an impressive feat of lyricism and soul.
“What Ever Happened to Kings” (track #8) tackles global banking and monetary policy and how both perpetuate power in the hands of the few. “Calorie Bomb” (track #1) addresses the contamination of our food sources and all the marketing in the media that perpetuates ever-increasing illness from it.
On a couple of songs he goes over the top a little with the positivity for my taste, and on those tunes the lyrics get more vague, but there is enough terrific stuff on this album that, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. It’ll make you think, wanna sing, and you might even find yourself dancing without realizing it.
The tag line at the top of the home page of Hawk’s website pretty much says it all: Soul.Music.Evolution.Revolution
Support this artist! We can all stand to hear more music from an independent thinker who looks the planet’s problems straight in the eye, and still finds optimism to spread. Go to his gigs. Buy the CD. You can visit his website to listen to tracks (and I love it that he posts all the lyrics too).
***The album can be purchased through the ‘Store’ link at the top of the page or on any of your favorite download sites including: iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon, Napster and more. Or just free-stream using the music player on the right of the screen.