Greg Hobbs
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Greg Hobbs

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"Eye Weekly"

Valentine's Day is over, girls, so here's how it is. We're guys: sometimes we drink too much beer, act stupid with our pals, get hot for the waitress even though we're married and run from commitment 'cause we're scared. The good guys know all this, and wrestle with it to become decent human beings.

Toronto singer-songwriter Greg Hobbs is one of the good guys, and has documented these struggles quite brilliantly on his fourth album, Threats & Promises. The Hamilton-born Hobbs writes well about drinking and carousing and that waitress. Smart, funny and a tad dishevelled in a downtown Tim Hortons, he's at pains to point out that girls like the album, too. "Beautiful Girls" is a hilarious song about how they choose horrible guys. Sometimes, Hobbs distances himself from romantic involvement, denying the bonding that led to a night of passion ("You Came Along") or running from romance before it goes bad ("Leave This Town"). Elsewhere, he celebrates a cheerful platonic friend ("Amanda") and writes a stand-up love song that commits to the girl in spite of his weaknesses ("I Won't Always Be Smiling").

"I'm really proud of that song," says Hobbs. "The hardest thing to do is write a love song without being schlocky. Part of the reason there's probably more heartache songs than love songs is that, frankly, they're easier to write. With 'You Came Along,' it's partly that a one-night stand can be so special: the first time you get together with someone. As far as 'Leave This Town' goes, I have this pessimistic streak where if things are going really well, I'm just aware that it's going to be over soon. Not to get melodramatic about it."

Hobbs happened to be listening to Steve Earle, late-'60s Rolling Stones and Dylan's Love and Theftwhen he recorded Threats. That's why it's more acoustic-based than his last album, the pop-rocking Drake Motel. This time, his voice is rasping right in your ear. "No one could make a record like Beggars Banquet nowadays," he says. "I thought, well, I'm gonna do it, 'cause no one buys 'em anyway!"

Hobbs makes a few such charming, self-deprecating comments throughout our conversation, but this Carleton journalism grad, who day-jobs at the CBC, continues to move forward. "A lot of people wonder what I keep doing it for," he says. "Sometimes I don't even know. But I will keep making records." Hobbs releases Threats this Saturday in a rare theatre show at the Poor Alex, without the benefits a label, an agent or a manager (yet).

He recalls being at a folk conference where some of the younger acts were bemoaning those scarcities. The older artists reminded them that these are comparatively recent phenomena. "I don't think Woody Guthrie needed tour support when he walked into a town," Hobbs laughs. "I think he wanted a meal!"

by Howard Druckman - Eye Weekly Magazine

"Toronto Star 2"

Toronto singer/songwriter Greg Hobbs is concerned that Drake Motel, his well-crafted, rootsy offering from a couple of years back, left some listeners with the wrong idea about his emotional wellbeing.

While it's true much of the album was steeped in the vicious circle of failed relationships and barroom binging, many of the tunes were buoyed by a wry sensibility and were drawn as much from observation as autobiography.

"After the last record, a lot of people started worrying about mymental state. But I'm not always the protagonist in my songs," says Hobbs.

"No one thinks that the author of American Psycho is out there killing people. It's the same with songwriting. You take on different characters which might accentuate your own personality or might even be based on people around you. If I was I was the person in all my songs, I'd be an alcoholic mess. And if I sang about myself the whole time, I'd be writing really boring songs.

"My least favourite criticism of my songs is that they are depressing."

Hobbs isn't taking any chances this time around.
Threats & Promises, his fourth disc, is littered with tracks that aim to put a grin on your face. "Me & This Girl," a song about a hapless pub patron who fantasizes a romantic relationship with his waitress, is sweeter than sad, while "Tonight The Guys Are Coming Over" pretty much involves the devolution into mayhem suggested by the title.

The emphasis on humour is more readily apparent in the warm, self-deprecating touch Hobbs brings to his live shows. He and his band will launch the new CD Saturday at the Poor Alex. The evening will feature guest appearances by Nicole Dueck, Sara Kamin and the Undesirables.

"To have a sense of humour in the songs is totally necessary for someone like me. I learned that listening to people like Fred Eaglesmith, Townes Van Zandt and Loudon Wainwright. They have these songs that'll rip your heart out, and then the next line will make you laugh."

Love songs are trickier, which is probably why "I Won't Always Be Smiling" is about as close as Hobbs comes to an entirely unqualified revelation of the heart.

"When I write songs," he says. "I often don't think about what I'm doing. I don't sit down and decide, I'm going to write a song about this thought I had today. I just write and it's a mystery to me. That being said, when I sat down to write `I Won't Always Be Smiling' I was putting a real effort into trying to write a love song that was real and honest.

"It's hard. There's a complete fear of sounding sappy. I don't want to ever sound overly earnest. I want to sound honest.

"There's a self-deprecating quality to break-up songs that people like. In a bar, especially, even people who are in happy relationships would rather hear a guy sing with a sense of humour sing about the shitty time he's had over the past week than about how happy he is now that he has the perfect woman in his life. I think even people who are in happy relationships would rather hear that."

by Vit Wagner
- Toronto Star

"Penguin Eggs"

The excellent fourth album by Toronto singer-songwriter Greg Hobbs is a return to the more acoustic sound of his earlier work. The sound, a mash of saloon-style country, blues and straight-forward folk, is much better suited to his lyrics, which sound as though he's lost somewhere in between the barroom and the Heartbreak Hotel. You can almost imagine you're slow dancing to I Won't Always be Smiling as the roadhouse empties out, comforted by Nicole Dueck's delicate backing vocals.

The stark title track, about love lost and not quite forgotten, fits well with the melancholy lyrics. In fact, most of the lyrics are melancholy, but the mood is so expertly matched by the music that it has an uplifting effect, rather than being depressing. The perfect album for nursing a broken heart, a hangover, or preferably both.

by Shawna Biamonte - Penguin Eggs

"Ottawa XPress"

*Greg Hobbs is ready to let a few philosophical musings creep into his customary songs about relationships and drinking.

The rootsy singer-songwriter's new disc Threats & Promises still mines those divey bars for tales of love gone wrong, and his heart shows the knife marks. But shuffle over to track nine, What Sandra Said, and do a little reading between the lines as he says, "My mind started to drift, like it sometimes does. Started thinking about the state of this place, those hawks and those doves."

The gist of the song is that the world isn't so black and white. Hobbs found that September 11 obliterated the grey area in thinking about the world. "There was this speech by Laura Bush that I saw somewhere," he says. Hobbs works as a researcher at the CBC in Toronto archiving footage for documentaries and scrolls through this stuff daily.

"She was saying that one of the good things that came out of September 11 was that there were more marriages than in the year prior. It's an odd thing to be proud of."

He says we have simplistic notions of good and bad and the result is apathy about the world around us. He deals with this more thoroughly in a song called Santo Domingo, one that's a live favourite though it didn't end up on the album. "I decided that it didn't fit. It was more poetic and my songs tend to be pretty straightforward. I don't want to use the word pretentious, because I quite like the song."

He says he's still for the straight-ahead approach in songwriting, not vague notions of head-muddling concepts, but his new songs reveal a slight shift away from matters of the heart and into meaty stuff that can be discussed over a brew.

by Fateema Sayani - Ottawa XPress

"Roots Music Report"

Greg Hobbs is a great lyricist and is joined by a great group of musicians. This is a really fun album.
The production is excellent and the feel is lively.

by Waylon Digges

- Roots Music Report

"Music Spectrum"

The PR agency warned me about the language on the last track of Greg Hobbs’ Threats & Promises, a live track called “Beautiful Girls,” which says, “Tell me why/Do the beautiful girls always pick/Assholes, losers, and dicks.” Yet, if you’ve been paying attention to Music Spectrum, you know that I’m not about to shy away from an album or artist simply because the language is rude, the topics off-color, or the morals questionable. There’s too much good music out there that gives too many good insights to our true lives and hearts that would be missed if we ran away at the first cuss word.
[That said, I have been having trouble believing that Ten Benson’s song “Tits” is worthy of discussing. Jetset Records did send me a promo copy, but mainly the song just indulges in that male preoccupation with breasts. However, a more careful reading of the song actually reveals a self-awareness about being corrupted by the passions of the flesh. “Was it the money/Was it the booze....”]
Hobbs is a folk singer, hinting at the tonal qualities of Peter Mayer, Cliff Eberhardt, and Peter Mulvey. The first track, “Storm,” is soaked in dobro and reminiscent of many troubadours in the American Folk section. Some of the guitar work even recalls fellow Canadian Gordon Lightfoot.
When track 1 runs out, though, and flips to track 2, we’re in the “Gospel Barroom,” a country shuffle about drinking and the Bible. That country flair is never far behind in Hobbs’ brand of folk music which lands him finally in the AltCountry section, next to Thomas Denver Johnson, Adam Masterson, and Jason Walker. (However, “Gospel Barroom” actually is very reminiscent of the Waterboys’ “Spring Comes to Spiddal" from Room to Roam, the Waterboys being in the Folk influenced IRE/UK Rock section. Hobbs' voice has a lot in common with Mike Scott's timbre).
Here is a collection of songs about bars, girls, drinking, and partying with friends, but meanwhile, this is sensitive singer-songwriter stuff, you know, drinking or hitting on the waitress with a conscience. “Me & This Girl” is about that typical male problem of suddenly fantasizing about a girl, in this case a waitress in a bar, thinking it would be better than a current relationship, all the while forgetting that you’re pitiful for even thinking this while your wife is at home. “Tonight the Guys are Coming Over” catches us guys trying to convince the women in our lives that they love us even if we’re drinking with our friends and being loud. Even when Hobbs is being humorous, he’s exposing the shallowness in the thoughts of guys.
In these heart-on-sleeve, paper-tiger-machoism songs, there’s also great beauty. The title song’s gentle picking tries to keep a strong front even while mourning the loss of a relationship. “Leave This Town” has Lightfoot picking, Dylan-esque phrasing, and a tender melody. You can’t let the occasional drawl and country-like compositions fool you into thinking that he’s a stereotypical Country & Western bar singer; this ain’t just some two-stepper. Hobbs writes songs that truly capture the heart.

by Pastor Ben Squires - Music Spectrum

"Thunder and Dust Review"

by Greg Quill - November 27, 07

Hamilton-raised songwriter Hobbs' fifth album is a mature step forward, a collection of finely crafted and thoughtful songs about love and loss and the whole damned catastrophe, edged with a healthy dollop of cynicism. The set contains no real surprises but this production benefits from a greater sense of self-assurance and the excellent accompaniment of bassist Darcy Yates and talented multi-instrumentalist Christine Bougie. Fans will probably lock in on "Secrets of the Bride," a typically complex Hobbs narrative about attending the wedding of his ex. But to these ears the top track is the opener, "The Horizon," for the tender encouragement it offers to a friend/lover rendered immobile by painful memories. - The Toronto Star

"Thunder and Dust Review"

I would grab-bag this album into alt-country folk, understated yet insightful, wry, cynical, humorous and candid observations on love, broken hearts, cinnamon in coffee and awkward wedding receptions.
While Hobbs has a restrained approach to singing, his tunes are by no means toothless and I pitty and applaud his past partners for providing such great material on love gone wrong, love gone right and love plain gone to dust.
His songwriting caught my ear with “Sunshine and Roses”where he lucidly explains, “I know the colour blue when I hear it, It’s Emmylou ringing in my ears… I’ve read about the love that lasts forever, I’ve even felt it brush my shoulder in the hall.” This album is full of such heart-hammered wisdom, which occasionally tempered with some humorous and candid takes on the less enjoyable chores in life. Take, for example, attending an ex-love’s wedding in “Secrets of the Bride”: “I showed up a little drunk it’s true, didn’t know how else I could pull through, I still got a thing of you.”
This is a beautifully sounding record with multi-instrumentalist Christine Bougie, and Darcy Yates on double bass completing the trio and creating a very earthy, yet at times ethereal take on Hobbs’ alt-country folk compositions.
“Thunder and Dust” Simmers more than it boils, which is just fine by me as often the most important words in life are heard in whispers rather than shouts. And Hobbs takes the time to make sure that what is being said is worth listening to.
- Penguin Eggs, Fall 2007

"Thunder and Dust Review"

by Michael Mee

Canadian singer songwriter Greg Hobbs must possess a razor-sharp sense of irony because, while Thunder and Dust may be one of the most image-forming titles, the music it contains is gentle, heartwarming country folk.

Instead of thunder you’ll be washed by the warm rain of Some Days, a song so wistful and reflective it comes in its own shades of pastel.

Hobbs, described as a ‘must see’ by the insightful and on this evidence accurate Toronto Star, takes the listener gently by the hand and guides them through an album that has no shock value but one that is both delightful and rewarding. The ’burden’ for the listener is to agree to suspend reality for an hour or so because Greg Hobbs creates the equivalent of sepia-tinted prints.

Both his voice and delivery are completely devoid of harshness and song titles like Sunshine and Roses, Secrets Of The Bride, Candlelight and Cupid’s Arrow are both self-explanatory and unerringly accurate. On Thunder and Dust Greg Hobbs is the equivalent of a romantic poet, without being either mad, bad or dangerous to know.

We are almost conditioned to be cynical and suspicious of anything that doesn’t have an ‘edge’, a motive or is not ‘dangerous’ but it’s difficult - make that impossible - to not smile and feel good about Greg Hobbs and Thunder And Dust.
He may not set out to make great statements with his music, he may never lift you out of your seat but he’s a pleasure to listen to. Wasn’t there a band who once said ‘all you need is love?’ Greg Hobbs proves the point.
- Americana UK, Oct 27, 2007

"Thunder and Dust Review"

by Jim P

Greg Hobbs’ voice ain’t the prettiest, but sometimes it’s the grit that makes the difference, and Hobbs’ tales of life and living, usually on the dark side of the street, are greatly enhanced by the sprinkling of gravel. Though a Canadian based in Toronto, his songwriting style is a winsome combination of Texas troubadour and slightly straight-laced, poetic East Coast folk. It works well because the songs are strong. He’s never too obvious, or generous with the hooks and if you listen, really listen, you can’t help but get sucked into his world. He’s been sporadically releasing albums since the early ‘90s, though his is a completely new name to me. CD Baby here I come...
- Leicester Bangs - Sept/Oct 2007


Under Your Feet (8 song CD - 1994)
Confused and Bleeding (10 song CD - 1999)
Drake Motel (11 song CD - 2001)
Threats & Promises (12 song CD - 2004)
Thunder and Dust (11 song CD - 2007)



Hamilton-born Greg Hobbs has established himself in Toronto's folk/roots music scene with honest and entertaining lyrics that bring out the beauty of blue moods and the humour of seemingly dark situations. He is a treasure of a songwriter.

Hobbs has recently released his fifth independent CD. "Thunder and Dust" co-stars Darcy Yates on bass, and Christine Bougie on Drums, guitars and keys.

With his musical musical collaborators, Hobbs has developed a fresh sound fusing folk and country with even a little hint of jazz.

He currently lives in Toronto, where he was named one of the “local must-sees” by the Toronto Star. He was also nominated for an Toronto Independent Music Award

Hobbs has played with shows with uber-troubadour Fred Eaglesmith, Canadian alt-country diva Carolyn Mark, The Cash Brothers, Erik Andersen, Odetta and others.

Hobbs has toured Canada and played a number of Ontario festivals, including Mariposa, Stewart Park and Toronto City Roots.