The move from alt-rock, to art-pop and country soul, is an effortless one for The Hawthorne Effect, a solo project by a psychotherapist and musician from the state of Illinois. The project name is taken from a psychological term that refers to an early industrial and organizational psychological study about worker productivity, in the artist’s home state. Specializing in anxiety and mood disorders, specifically OCD, compulsive disorders and trauma, the singer-songwriter’s professional task is to accompany his clients out of the darkness and into the light, and unfolding all their overwhelming, traumatic and painful experiences.
Mentally and emotionally consumed by this impacting information, The Hawthorne Effect turned to music as a comforting tool, and eventually as a way to share the thousands of stories he has collected over 25 years, which he felt needed to be heard, without compromising confidentiality.
The Hawthorne Effect has carved a sound, place and ethos that’s wholly his own. He’s able to not preach, but press into our conscience, to make us really look at who we are, what we value, and how we square the choices we make.
The single “Simulacra” starts quietly, draws the listener in, then drops down into a resonating tale that captivates with its stunning vocal performance. The Hawthorne Effect is no ordinary singer. He has a massive range, powerful pipes and an eloquent control of nuance. I hit replay on the track a number of times, before I even assimilated the narrative, just to savor the absolutely perfect vocals.
“Simulacra” is a work that embraces the music and rejects the pretension and servitude of a business that thwarts creativity. The Hawthorne Effect weaves a melody and a lyrical thread that will hold your attention from beginning to end. Underneath, he creates an elegant, yet grounded musical template that draws from organic Country and Americana flavors.
For anyone cleaving to the notion of music, as something emotional, something true, something created to induce deep reflection, The Hawthorne Effect masterfully straddles this formula, not only on “Simulacra”, but on many other songs too. Quite frankly, he exceeds the highest expectations that anyone could put on him. The Hawthorne Effect’s voice leaves many of his peers in the dust completely and utterly.
The earlier single, “The Edge”, is more upbeat, and features an epic bridge and chorus, which creates an extraordinary cacophony of sound, while the verses remain mellifluous and understated.
Throughout The Hawthorne Effect manages to never sink into clichéd sentimentality instead he reveals the sensitive bond necessary between humans. The Hawthorne Effect has powerful vocals, as we have already discovered on the previous track, but his artistic delivery gives this track life, as he jumps from a whisper to a soar.
What we learn from The Hawthorne Effect’s tracks, is that he furrows broad musical terrain with confidence. Song after song, he makes people feel empathy towards his themes and subjects. When an artist can do this in a song, that’s something special. When an artist can do this with every single song, he’s on a whole different level. Could this be due to The Hawthorne Effect?