Top critical review
Hawk Nelson- Letters to the President [crobsession.blogspot.com]
on August 22, 2009
In the summer of 2004, Ontario-based pop-punk group Hawk Nelson made their debut on Tooth & Nail. The year after, they expanded on it by releasing a Deluxe Edition of Letters to the President, reaching out to more and more fans with the help of their peppy live show. While it wasn't their most successful, Letters to the President was the album that gained them such promotions as being featured in Nickelodeon's Yours, Mine, and Ours, and even an NBC show. And with long-time friend Trevor McNevan to help with the writing, it seemed only inevitable that this band would go somewhere big with their music.
The youthful "California" opens up, perfectly describing how everyone who doesn't live there feels year-round. Things become a little more mature as the album progresses, starting with "Things We Go Through." While the song does keep the fun, "Wake up everyone around you, Let's rock until the clock strikes two," there are a few serious parts about the difficulties in life, asking God to help to see them through.
One of the reasons Letters to the President was so successful was because of the unashamed spiritual content. A lot of it is very bold, and Hawk manages to mix it with the fun content perfectly.
The title track is probably the most standout song on the album. The song deals with some serious issues, addressing, "Same sex marriage in a state where they don't care, murder is wrong, but the jail time's not fair, not to mention date rape, felony, and car theft." Lead vocalist Jason Dunn sings about wanting to do something to change the way our world is today. It's a very powerful and energy-packed song. The next two songs, "Right Here" and "Take Me" are both excellent tracks, separated by an instrumental song, and, for however short it may be, is verly lively, filled with the usual punk "Hey"s. The ever quirky and fun natured, "Someone Else Before" and "First Time" follow, leading into the album's heaviest track featuring McNevan on guest vocals. The album slows down at "36 Days," a track that is stays the same throughout, killing the mood presented by the previous tracks. It's a very heartfelt song, but just doesn't seem to fit with the rest.
Hawk's cover of "My Generation" by The Who is a great addition to the Deluxe Edition. They manage to still give it that old feel, and actually cover it very well, filled with those familiar stuttering vocals. On the other hand, the final three acoustic songs ("Every Little Thing," "Take Me," and "Letters to the President") only serve as nice additions to any Hawk fan's library. The best of the three would have to be, again, "Letters to the President," because of the sincerity felt through it.
So really, what made this '04 debut so successful was the spiritual depth. Yes, the punk rock was fun and exciting to listen to, but I think what really drew people in was the honesty and love for God that came with their lyrics. It's something that they've been incorporating lately in their music, and you can expect to find the same depth in their upcoming release, Live Life Loud.
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