Tuesday Tune-Up: Don Hawkins – “4th Down”

Another Local Genius Nestled in the Heart of Spokane, WA.

I first met Don Hawkins a couple of years ago. It was before my birthday. I remember that, because he was there at a combined bash a friend and I threw that year, and I remember meeting him a few weeks or months before. Anyway, he always struck me as the nicest guy, and in the years since then, every time I’m around him, I get the same vibe.

I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the stage and rehearsals with Don for a few one-off side projects, and the guy’s a great guitar player – but he’d never let you know it (until you hear him and really pay attention).

Cover art for Don Hawkins' 4th Down album  Close up of grass and a football chain.
Follow Don Hawkins wherever you stream your digital music!

I was trying to pin down how to describe Don’s voice while I was listening to “4th Down,” and the best I can come up with is if you mixed the timbre of Don Henley and Paul Rodgers with the phrasing of Tom Petty, you’d have something pretty close.

Don’s songwriting is top notch, too. He writes catchy, three-minute pop-rock songs that get in, get it done, and get out. This particular album has nine tracks, but two of them are instrumental interludes that last less than a minute, so we really should be calling it a 7-song EP, the longest of which is three minutes and twenty eight seconds. Despite that, it’s a solid 23 minutes of music, and there are some definite highlights you’ll want to add to your favorite playlists.

My top picks are as follows:

  • Who Are You This is a great song to start the record off with, because it is such a perfect balance of what Don’s songwriting is all about – total pop sensibility with just enough technical tomfoolery to make it interesting. I particularly like the lyrical content, with it serving to set the tone of the name of the album – which implies that there’s nothing left to lose, sports fans. The modes Don chooses to solo in over the chord structure are very interesting, too. It’s a great rock tune.
  • Know to be True This song hits all of the ’90s alternative buttons. It’s got a grungy, yet clean chord progression, a pop-driven chorus, and some great guitar work. Another all around great tune.
  • Finish Line The last song on the CD comes in with this awesome power-ballad beat, then leads into some interesting time changes and some really cool E-Bow or ambient lead guitar in the background that’s reminiscent of Peter Gabriel during the “So” years. There’s also a super tasty lead break right before the last verse.

Buy This Album However You Can Get It

So Don got back to me this morning and it turns out he is on the Spotify and wherever you download and stream music.

Also, Don’s other work is equally great. I can definitely recommend “One and Done,” as that was in my car disc player for a while, and “Future Ghosts” is great too. Just follow the guy wherever you stream music!