Caleb Hawley delivers diverse songs that explore nearly every weakness and strength of the human condition on new album ‘Sad People’.
Stream: ‘Sad People’ – Caleb Hawley
“Darling, do you want to know what I think?” is the question that opens Caleb Hawley’s fourth album, Sad People. Accompanied by a pulsating bass, the introductory seconds of the project introduce us to the album’s mission: Sad People is a masterpiece of modern songwriting exploring nearly every weakness and strength of the human condition.
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Sad People, the fourth album by Harlem-based singer-songwriter-producer Caleb Hawley. From the sarcastic lyrics of “We Could Use You ‘Round Here” to the deeply profound “Playing House,” Hawley delivers a diverse, exciting selection of songs.
The album opens with the lazy reggae-inspired groove of “Machine Gun.” Instrumentally, the track is relatively relatively stripped, with the filtered funk baseline taking front and center, and atmospheric elements filling in the gaps. Lyrically, the song explores the artist’s struggle with depression, comparing it to a machine gun: “They come right through me like a machine gun”… “Trying to pick myself up by my boot straps, but even my boot straps are pulling me down,” Hawley sings.
Written in the Mexican city of Chiapas, “A Minute of Your Love” captures the intense heat of the region, as well as shows a clear latin influence. Upbeat summer guitar plucks complement the Latin drum beat and add a rhythmic complexity not seen in most Pop songs. After starting the song in Chiapas, Hawley finished it in New York City as part of the “Ace Hotel Artists in Residency” program.
“Confession Time” is perhaps the darkest record to come out of the Sad People album. Hawley says that it “[shows] the cycle of evil through the story of a priest.” Lyrics like “Don’t tell your mama, don’t tell your daddy” and “Nobody needs to know this is just between us, don’t ask no questions” make it a difficult song to listen to. The following track on the album follows on from this theme: “Oh, Denial” speaks to those burying their emotions, set to an aggressive Trap beat.
Hawley describes “We Could Use You ‘Round Here” as “The only uplifting song about suicide in the world.” He may very well be right. It features bright string pizzicatos and ear candy galore.
”Just Want to Be Loved” is a deep nostalgia trip, harkening back to the warm synths and gated drums of the 1980s, while still keeping the best parts of modern Pop production and writing. Hawley sums up the song’s sound by saying, “If Phil Collins and Calvin Harris got together they might make this track.”
Perhaps one of the most memorable songs on the album, “Playing House” makes a profound statement on day-to-day life: “No matter the age, we’re all just playing house.” Musically, the track is a songwriting masterpiece carried by a beautiful orchestral arrangement that gives the piece a timeless, beautifully cinematic quality.
In a euphoric turnaround, “One Life” is a classic sing-a-long Pop track, with radio-friendly guitars and a synth bass. The song encourages listeners to turn negative thoughts into positive ones, saying, “We only got one life to live.”
The album’s title track “Sad People” has a friendly old-school soundand is described by Hawley as a summary of the album. The chorus sings, “sick of all the sad people,” inviting listeners to chose happiness over despair and perturbation.
The first lyrics of “I Ruin Everything” say it all: “I celebrated four years sober with three shots of cheap vodka.” In this self deprecating, Funk-driven bop, Hawley expresses his frustration with himself, exclaiming, “I ruin everything” amidst retro synth sweeps, a punchy bass and a fist full of energy, in a contemporary throwback that fuses Funk with Punk and classic Hip-Hop elements.
The final song on the album, “Time Is Gold” reflects on the temporary nature of most life experiences, and is the perfect closer. According to Hawley, the song was actually written seven years ago, he dug it up again because he felt it would be a strong ending to his album.
Caleb Hawley’s Sad People is a strong collection of songs rich in emotion and complexity, with each track bringing something new to the table. It is (by our prediction) sure to secure Caleb Hawley as a leading talent amongst New York’s top artists on the rise.
Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Caleb Hawley’s Sad People with Atwood Magazine as the singer/songwriter goes track-by-track through his fourth album!
Stream: ‘Sad People’ – Caleb Hawley
Inside Sad People
Dueling snare drums, trumpets and orchestral strings create a war-like mood as the lyrics draw comparisons between depression and a machine gun. “I can’t stop these thoughts, They come right through me like a machine gun. Pierced my heart, I’m bleeding out, don’t tell me it’s my fault.”
A Minute of Your Love
A Minute of Your Love’ is a latin-infused pop song. It was written in Chiapas, Mexico and produced in NYC as part of the Ace Hotel artists in residency program. It tells the story of a lover’s plea for more time and commitment from the other half of a relationship.”
A deep house track, demonstrating the cycle of evil through the story of a priest. Might not be an easy listen.
A sequel to “Confession Time”, “Oh, Denial” explores the benefits of burying emotions.
We Could Use You ‘Round Here
The only uplifting song about suicide in the world.
Just Want to be Loved
If Phil Collins and Calvin Harris got together they might make this track.
Cinematic. No matter the age, we’re all just playing house. I wrote this song a few years back, intended as a duet. I was honored to have Joanna Teters join me on this. She has one of my favorite voices on the planet.”
Euphoric pop jam, lyrically turning a constant flow of negative thoughts into something positive. You all got one.
Title track. Summary of the album.
I Ruin Everything
I celebrated 4 years sober with 3 shots of cheap vodka… says enough.
Time Is Gold
This song is actually seven years old. I used to play it at shows all the time, but stopped cause it was a downer. I felt like it’d be a good closer for Sad People, so I brought it back.
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📸 © Mark Gordon