Caleb Hawley is back with a fresh sound and a set of new EPs scheduled to drop in 2014. I first heard Caleb perform over two years ago in the spring of 2011, shortly after his run in the top 50 on American Idol and just months before he made his first appearance on musicwithoutlabels.com. This is one extremely talented fellow. His first self-released projects contained a variety of pop folk songs with incredibly catchy soulful melodies. Hawley’s background includes a degree in Jazz Composition from the renowned Berklee College of Music, three self-produced albums, and a number of songwriting awards. A lot of his work up until now has been heavily influenced by his abilities on guitar, but when asked about his new sound, Hawley elaborated,
“While writing the EPs, I primarily listened to late 60’s and early 70’s Motown. I became pretty obsessed with how such simple songs could be arranged with such intricacy, so I took that influence and went with it. I also focused on centering the album around my voice, rather than guitar, as I had in the past.”
His work over the last two years has revolved around writing, recording, and refining the new music for his pair of EPs coming in 2014. The change in songwriting has given Hawley focus as a soul singer, and his new single, “Would You Even Try?” is a standout on the new project.
I personally can’t get enough of the raw intricacies on this new single! The intro alone is organic enough to transport anyone back to a 1970s cop show. At the very least, the rainbow bass line, conga tones, perfect dry wash on the ride, blended background vocals, and carefully constructed instrumentation delivers a stunning presence on this track… and that gritty flute, just wow. Hawley’s voice is so focused, even when riffing, but more importantly, communicates the disparity expressed in the message of the lyrics. If you knew what people were struggling with or what their burdens were, would you help them? It’s an honest question to ask in our culture today, and I commend Hawley for bringing attention to that piece of life that we so often seem to miss. ”Would You Even Try?” is now available on iTunes and through the Amazon links to the left. The track ushers in a new full band sound that marks the beginning of a completely new creative process for Caleb. It’s a hearty follow up to the single, “Little Miss Sunshine,” that he released in May, but just an appetizer for the first EP we’ll be treated to next month.
Although it’s a new process for Hawley, his DIY mentality remains stable and refreshed while co-producing songs with Lucius drummer Dan Molad. Their contrasting backgrounds in taste helped match a unique approach to a vintage trend. The recording was shared between a small studio in Brooklyn, Molad’s apartment, and Hawley’s living room. The result produced a 12 piece string section from the NY Philharmonic, Beyonce’s horn section, and a live rhythm section to capture the Spector-esque “wall of sound” present on the EPs.
“It’s hard to imagine how the lengthy list of musicians ever fit into one place. Thank you multitracking.“
The first EP, Side 1, introduces a new neo-motown influence, putting a raw spin on a retro sound. New listeners and expecting fans can get their copy on January 28th, and get the single while they wait. For more information about Caleb Hawley and his music, click on the album art below.
By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC