Ellen Marie Hawkins (2010)

The Colorado blues singer-songwriter has released her second album, Back to the
Wheel. The cd begins with “Summertime’s the Time,” an energetic blues rock song that
embraces the love of the season, making me feel warm and nostalgic for those lazy July
days as I find myself in the crispness of a November afternoon. With the driving bass,
the tinkling of the piano keys, and the blues of Jenn’s vocals, the song also grabs the
attention of the listener as Jenn’s style is boldly proclaimed.

Jenn touches on the silly, the spirit, and the pain in the span of 12 songs. In “My Favorite
Place,” she sings from a child’s perspective as she talks to a squirrel, a bee, and a robin,
but in the very next song, “Hope,” Jenn sings, “I wanna talk about hope/I’m talkin’ about
people opening their hearts.” She jumps from the innocence and wonderment of a child
enjoying nature to an adult who yearns for a world where all children could experience
this carefree freedom but yet cannot as they are burdened with strife. I like that she
focuses on the positive; because people can come together and help, we can eradicate
some of the grief going on in the world.

Not that all the songs on Back to the Wheel focus on issues like these or are told with
childlike innocence. In “Don’t Try to Change Me,” Jenn declares “If you’re stayin’ here,
then take me as I am/accept this girl for what you see/Or you can move on baby, ‘cause
I’d rather be free.” The song is sung with the sass of a girl bold enough to point out that
sometimes she contradicts herself but strong enough to say she won’t alter who she is just
to have a man in her life.

While it’s her energy and blues style that makes her so enjoyable to listen to, it is
her positive spirit that makes her so endearing. Jenn closes the album with “In the
Sunshine,” a song that embraces a moment of happiness after a period of grayness. The
focus on the positive, even if for a second, rather than clinging to the ache of a trial, will
have me returning to this album for repeated listens.

Scroll to Top