Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer in 2001.
On his fourth release, Around The Margins, Doug Hoekstra delivers observations on small town life, train rides, and personal relationships. He’s an engaging storyteller whose descriptive lyrics have an almost photographic quality. Throughout the CD, Hoekstra’s talkative singing style and acoustic arrangements are embellished by a talented cast of musicians and harmony vocalists.
“Laminate Man” is overly cute, and “Black And White Memories” lacks a strong enough melody, but otherwise, Hoekstra is consistently on the mark. “For The Woman” depicts a man whose only escape from a dull existence comes in the form of the passion he feels for his artist girlfriend, while on “Stranger’s Eyes,” Hoekstra sets rural images to a fun, rocking arrangement. “That’s Where He Was Living” spins a somber tale of murder and redemption, while “Undone” offers a wistful look at a man determined to escape his farm roots, only to find those qualities reborn in his young son. Both songs are classic examples of Hoekstra’s ability to infuse folksy portraits with touching emotions.