Chuck Hawthorne’s sophmore album, Fire out of Stone, is a mixed bag of his life experiences and a plethora of characters as rich as any Hemingway novel. His Austin, Texas roots shine through loud and clear but, it’s filtered through a lifetime of world wide travel that reflect the deepest of Americana and folk music. Chuck is a master storyteller and these 10 songs will not only stand the test of time but in my opinion, will become the old standards that future generations look back at to see how songwriting should be done.
The album was produced in Austin, Texas at Jumping Dog Studio by Walt Wilkins and Ron Flynt and both gentlemen also helped out on the other side of the studio glass with Walt playing high strung guitar and percussion while Ron played bass and baritone guitar. Marian Brackney is on fiddle and viola, Julie Carter plays cello, Libby Koch sings back up vocals, Geoff Queen handles steel guitar and dobro, and Ray Rodriguez plays both drums and percussion instruments. Chuck also invited back producer Ray Bonneville from his first album, Silver Line, to help out on Harmonica.
The album starts off with my favorite track on the album, “Such is Life (C’est Le Vie),” which Chuck performs in an upcoming episode of the video series The Art Inside the Craft. It’s the story of a biker’s last ride with so much detail and emotion that you picture each scene as though you were a part of the story. It lets you know that you are in for some amazing story telling and that if you listen, you will be moved by Chucks songwriting.
“Amarillo Wind” has some beautiful harmonies from Libby Koch as Chuck sings about scattering the ashes of his love across the wind. “Arrowhead & Porcupine Claw” and “Sara’s All the Way” both reflect the Texas based stories that Chuck spins so well before widening the range in the next few songs to a subject Chuck knows very well in the story of his fellow veterans. As an artist who learned guitar on the USS Iwo Jima in the middle of the Adriatic Sea, you won’t find a more fitting songwriter to tackle these songs.
“New Lost Generation” is a hard reflection on the sufferings that veterans have had, and continue to struggle with daily. Chuck writes “We prescribed him little pills, We prescribed him bigger pills. Got him higher than any rocket ever flew.” While the “Lost Generation” is a post World War I reference, Chuck highlights that we still haven’t solved the issue of the post war care for veterans who sacrifice it all on our behalf.
The album finishes with Chuck covering the song “I Will Fight No More Forever” by Richard Dobson who passed in 2017. It appears on Dobson’s last album I Hear Singing and Chuck credits it and Dobson as the inspiration to gather up these 9 songs for the album. In true singer songwriter fashion, Chuck built a great album off of that inspiration and has created a piece of art that proves why he’s making the impact that he is.
Fire Out of Stone is available directly through his website, http://www.chuckhawthorne.com, or any online retailer and music streaming service. If you’re lucky enough to have him pass through your town, you can also grab a cd in person and experience the music live. Chuck is an amazing troubadour and songwriter and as long as he continues to make new music, I’ll continue to buy his albums. https://chuckhawthorne.com