WHAT GOES AROUND
Hawks' third album is a multi-course meal of Americana for those who crave variety in their musical diet. Hawks delivers 14 original songs plus one bonus remix that invoke hypnotic soul pop (think Big Star meets Jimmy Webb-era Glen Campbell), hip-shaking country blues (Mississippi John Hurt meets NRBQ on Highway 61), and heart-rending, rootsy country ballads. Mixed by Chris Stamey, the album also offers Ray Price-style, honky-tonk shuffle plus straight, hard-driving bluegrass.
What Goes Around offers a best-of blend celebrating what Hawks considers raw and honest American music. As he says, “Making this record was like going back into my closet and trying on all my old favorite jackets. I found out that they not only still fit, they feel great, too.”
Mixed by NC music legend Chris Stamey, the album sounds rich and lush with a timeless, shimmery warmth. Hawks was thrilled to work with him again (Stamey also mixed Hawks’ debut YepRoc release, Fool’s Paradise). “When he sent the first mix, it nearly brought me to tears. It completely captured the essence and emotion I intended. I think Chris is a sonic genius and an absolute master of knowing just what a song needs.”
Of Greg, Chris Stamey says, "Greg is, to use an old-fashioned term, a real recording artist...A gifted singer and guitarist, certainly, but mostly a great songwriter with a palette ranging from Glen Campbell to Buck Owens to Wilco and beyond. It was a joy to work with him, and I think his energy and enthusiasm and genuine, contagious sincerity shine through in every aspect of this record."
While Hawks handles most of the instruments and vocals, he is joined by an impressive cast of musicians on several cuts. Pedal steel comes courtesy of Nathan Golub (John Howie Jr. & The Rosewood Bluff), Steve Watson, and the great Allyn Love (Steve Wariner). Bluegrass IBMA award-winning fiddler and banjo player, Ron Stewart, plays on “Wide Open Road.” Bluegrass upright bass player, Jason Moore (Mountain Heart), joins in on three tracks. Chapel Hill ace bassist, F.J Ventre, plays the upright on the spooky, mournful old-time string band number, “River's Edge” as does world-renowned clawhammer banjo virtuoso, Adam Hurt, who also plays fiddle on the tune. John Hofmann plays some great Tommy Jackson-style fiddle on the honky-stonk stomper, “It'll Be Alright.” Tony Bowman lays down gorgeous piano on “Nothing Under the Sun.”
Hawks’ lyrical themes cover quite a bit of ground. The title track shares some thoughts about the inevitable justice that can come to those who hurt you. He says, “That was one of my Dad's favorite sayings: ‘What goes around, comes around.’ In other words, you eventually get back in this life what you give. And the truth always has a way of coming out.”
Hawks also delivers biting political satire in “We Got Ours” against the ever-expanding plutocracy, taking on the persona of the One Percent. In “Nothing Under the Sun,” he faces his worst fear of letting go of someone or something, only to find it was fear itself keeping him from happiness all along. He poses the cosmic questions about the circle of life in “We Belong to the Sun”—where do we end, and where does the supernatural begin. In "Smiling Jack," he mocks the glad-handing good ol' boys his father called out for having everyone fooled. He takes us on a harrowing ride in “You’re Not Alone,” through the night terrors and demons that haunt the addict. "Holding Cell” is a dying man’s unapologetic confession to a murder and the just reasons for his act. In “River’s Edge,” he chronicles the overwhelming responsibility of fatherhood and all its love and sorrow as a man searches for his lost son. In “Soft Place To Fall,” Hawks pleads for that sacred time together with his wife that heals him. “Down in my Bones” is a much sultrier ride, slow-burning and languorous, a paean to their passion.
Of the process of creating this album, Hawks says: “I wasn't sure if I wanted to write anymore after Coming Home. Then after hearing about Alex Chilton's sudden passing, I went back to Big Star and realized just how much that music meant to me. I kept going, listening to everything that still moves me. I was also trying to reconnect the dots of what’s built my musical house, those artists who’ve inspired me most over the years. I never gave a second thought to making a genre-specific record—just one I’d like to listen to."
Hawks dedicates the album to his mother, Dot, who has been his rock and always keeps him laughing. He says, "My mom is the source of all the best parts of my nature."