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Doug Hoekstra


Hoekstra is no mere tunesmith. He's a deep writer of poetic song and published fiction, working with experimental and pop music figures to create his own world of music tied together by his penetrating, whisper soft vocal signature.

The Past Is Never Past is apparently put together from demos and pieces that didn't fit on his last recording (also from 2001) Around the Margins, and cuts that had appeared on compilations or websites here and there. Even so, it hangs together better than most records I've heard, because his unusual delivery and lyrical approach tie together songs cut with very different engineers. The artist is the de facto producer, but each of the environments he cut these tracks in bear their own sonic personality.

The artiest and biggest bunch were cut with experimental music friend Jeff Kowalski in Chicago and a sharp urban cast of cohorts. Doug is closest to inventive pop when he teams with George Marinelli at his Wing Ding studio in Nashville. George is perhaps best known for his work with Bruce Hornsby and Bonnie Raitt, but his own group Air Parma is excellent, and he's produced or played on loads of other recordings to boot. In the middle of those spectrum ends are the tracks cut with Andrew Robb in Chicago and those with Robb Earle at Sound Vortex in Nashville. There is very little bass or bass guitar on the record. There are a lot of loops, and some lovely, mostly unison background vocals from a few distinct female singers: Kat Parsons, Colleen Burke Kave, and K.K. Falkner.

This is the artist's fifth recording, though he has appeared on twice as many compilations. It's no wonder, he is such a singular voice that people pick him out of the crowd easily and often. There are other great artists whose work may be called to mind by his own, but we hope that you will go to the Listen page to hear what he's like, rather than preconceive your notion through comparison.

As well as in the U.S., Doug Hoekstra has released CDs in Holland and the UK, and tours extensively in Europe. He is clearly one of the most unique and compelling artists on the American folk scene, and beyond. • FG

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