Review Summary: Mark Hawkins does it again. In a most profound and beautiful way.
If you haven't figured it out by now, Mark Hawkins is a seriously talented guy. Not only that, but he keeps busy. While working on projects such as Soul Cycle and Robots Pulling Levers, Hawkins somehow found the time to channel his energy properly and create the piece that is Grandpa's Guitars
. Quite frankly, it's a wonder.
While this album is mostly acoustic and without a vocalist in sight, it propels itself on a mixture of technicality and fun. The technicality comes honestly - Mark Hawkins has been showing off his chops for a little while, now, and is gaining a name in the metal underground as a masterful player and composer. Each song has a clear sense of direction and purpose and Mark seems to introduce or focus on a new concept with each track. For example, the acoustic element is at the forefront in songs like "Distant Playground," but takes the backseat to electronics in "Justify the Means."
Of course, technicality means that there's plenty of quick, accurate, and poignant movement about the fretboard. But that's not to say that Hawkins doesn't have restraint. So much of his virtuosity looms on the horizon of the musical portrait, rather than popping out at you like some 3D action thriller. There's a great amount of rhythm guitar work that went into this album and it makes each track flow seamlessly from beginning to end. Even just that quiet, sustained pluck of one note resonates in a huge way on Grandpa's Guitars
In truth, everything translates very well onto the album. But one of the things that needs to be stressed is that, for an album centered around acoustics, there's a big focus not only on some of the sober and somber tone that can be created, but to some genuine fun that Hawkins engineers throughout. From tracks like "Juanita," "Spanish Fly," and "Soltando Deseo," its apparent that Mark's having a ball making this record. You'll even find some joyful bluegrass twang in songs like "Valkenvania Blues." Of course, that's not to say that those more somber elements aren't there - you'll find them scattered throughout in songs like "Inhabitants" and "Dream Protection," which, while different, are just as great as the more "fun" tracks.
With his knack for song structure, sheer talent at his instrument, and pure sense of style, Mark Hawkins has made Grandpa's Guitars
a must-own for any fan of progressive instrumental music. Rest assured, you will
be missing out if you don't give this album at least a try.