Fire Out Of Stone
3 Notches Music
As much as I enjoyed Chuck Hawthorne’s debut from 2015, Silver Line, it surely didn’t prepare me for his latest, Fire Out Of Stone. I mean, when a record starts like this, how can you resist? He smelled like marijuana/Two-finger cologne/He smoked his Regal cigarettes/Through an ancient saxophone (Such Is Life). The song captures a person and a moment flawlessly, a tribute to the songwriting talent of Hawthorne, and that talent is evident throughout the ten cuts found here.
“Amarillo Wind” follows, and it’s measured pace allows the listener to revel in the sound of the record, produced by Walt Wilkins and Ron Flynt. The building blocks are Hawthorne’s weary but strong vocals and acoustic guitar, and he’s helped on harmony vocals by his partner and noted folk singer Libby Koch. The aching steel guitar of Geoff Queen floats on a cloud on several songs, assisted by the viola of Marian Brackney or Julie Carter’s cello, which meld into a sonic tapestry that elevates the record out of the simple confines of a “singer/songwriter” record, in the same manner of the recent recordings from The Flatlanders. You hear space, stretched over time, never hurried and never rushed. “Arrowhead & Porcupine Claw” shows Hawthorne has learned lessons from the late Guy Clark (as all good Texas songwriters should) in his description of a man making “fire out of stone”, with Clark’s exquisite eye for detail.
The only non-original song is “I Will Fight No More Forever”, the classic Richard Dobson moment cast from the words of Chief Joseph Spoke, and it’s a fitting ending to this gorgeous album that should place Chuck Hawthorne at the highest level of songwriting recognition. Fire Out Of Stone is a record to revel in, to be swept up in its articulate voice, seduced by the sound. It’s a wonder.