Appealing and melodic Ron Hawkins’s Straitjacket Love is the best Americana album you will hear this year
And of course it’s by a Canadian.
But wait. This cd offers more than that. It’s a touchstone to the human condition circa 2011.
Let me put it this way. If you mixed in elements of Neil Young, mid 60′s Bob Dylan with a small hint of acoustic John Mellencamp and Gordon Lightfoot’s 70′s work into a cup of coffee and drank it, your buzz would be Ron Hawkins’ album Straitjacket Love.
Whether Hawkins’s wants to acknowledge or not this cd has universal appeal in the best kind of way. It’s done on it’s own merit.
It this sounds like high praise for any work by a songwriter in 2011 it’s because the songs take the spirit of classic singer-songwriter recordings and make them relevant to today’s busy and detached world.
Remember when you put on an album and listened to it.
Tracks like the opening One Hundred Five and Corner Room take that rustic sound of Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding and Neil Young’s Harvest era and knock you over lyrically and emotionally. Thank god, that Hawkins had the idea to include his lyrics in the cd booklet.
Elsewhere Hong Kong Station has a Blue Rodeo-esque drive and Waitin On Something That’s Already Here has the pure magic of of making you feel like your hearing the song for the first time, every time you play it.
The title track has a great rollicking stream of conscious-ness lyric and Lucky Street Lazarus has a John Mellencamp feel that would kill anywhere on Americana roots radio.
Make no mistake. This cd has nothing to do with Hawkins’s Lowest of the Low era.
Straitjacket Love shows Hawkins growing as a songwriter 20 years into a career!
Diamonds In The Water and Prairie Girl although vastly different in compostiion offer up two more reasons why this album is one of the most important singer-songwriter albums released this year.
JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, musician and radio show host http://emms.podbean.com/