Certain Circles has been a work of optimism since its Kickstarter campaign genesis. While Gassaway does get pensive on “Break of Dawn,” the introspective and rootsy “Where I’m Coming From,” and the poignant piano ballad “The Ship,” the overarching theme of the record is hope.
The opening track, “Turn This Thing Around,” is a buoyant, horn-heavy tune that offers a positive outlook for the future while serving as a plea for people to find common ground and love one another. The banjo licks and group singalong anchoring “Feeling Good” are guaranteed mood-enhancers, and the anthem “Hear Love,” which closes the album, is the apotheosis of that hopeful tone. Recorded in six days at Ramble Creek Recording Studio in Austin, most of the album’s 10 tracks were captured in one take. The result is an organic feel perfectly suiting the material, which Gassaway wrote and produced himself. Instead of pigeonholing his music into Americana, folk or alternative categories, Gassaway prefers to pursue diversity and eclecticism. “I’ve written full symphonic works, choral pieces, chamber music and folk songs, and they’re all the same for me,” he explains. “I like to think of my style as ‘honest.’”