12 July 2015

Cameron Hawk - "Dream You Forgot"

(Photo by Rachel Meyers)

If you want to know a thing or two about music in Lawrence and Kansas City, a man who's almost impossible escape is Cameron Hawk. Probably best well known for being the co guitarist/vocalist for The Dead Girls, he's also played in Stiff Middle Fingers, Podstar, Hidden Pictures, [my personal favorite] Many Moods Of Dad, and probably quite a few others I either don't know about. In addition to his numerous groups, he's also the founder of the incredible annual celebration of local music, Lawrence Field Day Fest. He has an impressive resume to say the least. However, after spending 15 years working tirelessly in his local scene, Hawk left earlier this year to work abroad in China as an English teacher. While Cameron's presence in the local scene will be very missed, he didn't leave us with nothing. After a fairly active late 2014 (releasing new albums from The Dead Girls and Stiff Middle Fingers, and releasing the Many Moods Of Dad record on vinyl), Hawk has left us with a particularly generous parting gift: his first solo album, Dream You Forgot. In all honesty, it's probably one of my favorite of his releases.

For the most part, Hawk uses this record to take his usual rock/pop stylings and make them into emotive singer/songwriter tracks that feature Cameron's voice multi-tracked, acoustic guitar, lead electric guitars, and some occasional light rhythms. I really like the first two tracks, "(What I'd Do) If I Were You" and "Fire Again". "(What I'd Do)...." features very somber acoustic guitars accompanied by mildly distorted electric leads, and Cameron's harmonizing sounds great. His lyrics sound passionate and heartfelt, and they really work with his voice. "Fire Again" has some almost funky hand-snaps, and the acoustic guitars on this song really interact with the rhythm, plus Hawk's lyrics about relationships are both interesting and relatable. "Ariel Vue" is a really charming tune; Cameron's lovely harmonized vocals combined with the slow acoustic rhythm guitar makes for an wonderfully emotive track. The record features two instrumental cuts, "Nervousness" and "Black and Blue Bird". "Nervousness" is pretty sweet, featuring some fast finger picking and very twangy acoustic guitars. "Black And Blue Bird" features some nice interaction between reverb-tinged and distorted electric guitars between acoustic guitars, and with a bit of shaker added in, it all adds up to a wonderful sounding little track. "Lame Dream Apology" is a great acoustic ballad that has a fantastic emotional build, incorporating electric guitars and tambourine as it progresses that seem to get louder and denser despite only being a few layers of instrumentation. "All On You" is also a pretty heavy emotional track, featuring some great vocals and lyrics, accompanied by some amazing melodies. "Messy Days" follows a pretty similar pattern, but with a bit more speed and volume, and some really awesome "oooh's" towards the end. Not all the tracks on here are quite acoustic tracks though. "Dropped On The Rocks" feels like a more indie-rock tinged Dead Girls track. It's filled with plenty of energy and volume, and it sounds great. It's a reminder that Hawk is a man of many talents; he can write soft, emotional singer/songwriter tracks, but he can also bust out some great rock tunes (something he's shown consistently with his other bands in his career). "Walk Around The Block At Dusk" is a pretty candid and honest song lyrically, and I would consider it  to be a rock powerhouse. The album's last track is entitled "Running Off", and I think it ends the album quite well. It's incredibly punchy and energetic, it sounds like something Many Moods Of Dad could play. It's just a joy to listen to, and it's filled with all the elements that have made me love Cameron's music from the first time I heard it; great guitar playing, fantastic vocals, interesting and introspective lyrics, and tons of energy. This track just cranks it up to 11 and leaves your blood pumping before it slowly burns out. I think it's a great closer to Dream You Forgot. 

While I do think there are several other albums that rank above it, I think that Cameron's solo effort is among his best records. It's got a good mix of emotional acoustic tracks and some great rock tunes as well. Hawk's vocals and lyrics are all top notch, and the guitar playing sounds great. Whether he's doing more candid and unplugged tracks or loud and heavy songs, Cameron blends them and does each style flawlessly. I really loved listening to Dream You Forgot, and I think you should check it out as soon as possible. It's fantastic. I'm not sure when Cameron's next musical release will be coming out, but I think this will tide me over for quite a while. 

(Totally unbiased opinion: I hope the next release is a new MMOD record)

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