Dechen Hawk- Jus Sayin’
Music absolves the mind of life’s compounding responsibilities. It’s about feeling, connection, the experience of rhythm, melody, even lyricism, carrying awareness far from everyday distractions to a simply meditative state.
One of Boulder’s most recognized singer-songwriters, Dechen Hawk, allows the cogitative component of music to guide his arrangements. He’s a natural-born musician with his interest stretching back as far as he can remember. The lyrics of his songs are shared as a gift to the community, an embodiment of the Shambahla tradition so prominent in his upbringing. They are a product of complete submission, and the new EP, Jus Sayin’, is of no exception, paying homage to soulful, uplifting musicianship.
“Music is a meditative practice by nature. You can’t be listening to music and not be present, or you are not listening to the music…. That’s part of what’s helped me to be diligent and follow through on my craft or be present when I am performing for the audience. Relaxed and patient.” – Dechen Hawk
Years in the making, Jus Sayin’ is a collaborative set of compositions. A fusion of Elliot Hunt’s percussive, backbeat-driven production and Hawk’s patience form the seventh CD in Hawk’s discography. There’s more persuasion, more pop, more club! Definitely worth the $5.50 price tag of limitless listenability. There’s a driving danceability, a coalescence between two dynamics conjuring re-repeat. So smooth, so uplifting yet grounded. 2 & 4 & damn! Do you feel those goosebumps? I did.
Jus Sayin’ resonates a find-your-lover, feel-good vibe reminiscent of the neo-soul musician James Blake and the unforgettable delivery of Stevie Wonder. D’Angelo and Maxwell, to name a few more, perpetuated the fusion of soul and R&B so apparent in Hawk’s approach to music. Give them a listen, and you’ll understand why Jus Sayin’ is lively, inspirational and mixed with a whole lot of sexy.
If there’s a chance for the charts, the first track “Drug of Choice” screams, “Get your groove on!” From the head-bobbing, smile-forming, catchy lyrics, feels move through the soul. “Lost in Line” is the perfect follow-up to solidify the mood of the EP. “Tenderly”, my favorite song, is relatable and empowering. It’s for those looking for solace in getting over an old relationship. If there’s a song reminiscent of Hawk’s older work, “Beautifully Back” hits home like a beautiful love ballad. And to finish, “What You Won’t Do For Love” is a great way to leave the listener yearning for more.
Jus Sayin’, the whole CD, is less than 20 minutes long. Less than your favorite sitcom yet far more riveting.
Just wait ‘till you see him live. Hawk’s delivery on stage speaks volumes about his character and approach to music. His voice is soothing and gentle. Soft spoken, light vocals resonating bliss within layers of heavier, upbeat percussion. Regardless of genre, Hawk’s inflection settles like Wonder’s before bed, humble and comforting. So pour some wine. Flip the switch. And succumb to the bliss of Hawk’s voice, sensually vibrating your eardrums.
As Hawk says, “Music is emotional. It’s a direct access to tapping into a variety of feelings that we have as humans.”
When Jus Sayin’ just isn’t enough neo for the stay-at-home soul, remember Hawk performs all over the Front Range. Sometimes he plays as a solo artist, but usually it’s with fellow singer-songwriters. Earlier this year he started a stellar funk band also called Jus Sayin’. Even internationally admired projects like The New Mastersounds, The Kyle Hollingsworth Band and Big Gigantic have facilitated sit-ins. He’s always giggin’.
Besides a strong dedication to live performances and writing fresh material, Hawk is an essential component of Boulder’s music scene as a whole. He regularly promotes new talent traveling through the area. In the past he worked with Trident Coffee Shop and Bookstore and Caffè Sole, but The Laughing Goat is his booking grounds for now. They feature the java buzz and live music or poetry every night of the week. There’s no local, acoustic or soulful musician worthy of attention that doesn’t get the opportunity to be featured at The Goat.
We could all use a breath of fresh melody. A dip in the 90s neo-soul as a reminder of the surreality of a calm voice in rhythm with the funkiest, heaviest moments of existence. Hawk’s presence stands as a testament that no matter how complicated life gets, there’s always a new piece full of life, full of vigor yet, gently grounded.
If you’re an enthusiast moved by the movement, it’s about time to tune in. It’s time to listen to the rhythm of your heart and discover what moves you, what feelings you need to work through, what makes your insides yearn in this moment. Because Hawk may be the purveyor of passion you’ve been searching for.
Article by Scott Rowland
Photography by Matt Diss