Chris Hakim believes in giving an honest measure in everything he does – from cooking dinner for his wife Jennie to repairing and improving guitars for his friends. It shows most strongly in his music – and now, you can hear for yourself.

An Honest Measure, which is now on sale at CD Baby, took three years to record, but an entire lifetime to develop. An Honest Measure is a mosaic of Chris’s life, from the disorientation of the breaking up of a band (“Deep Rain”) to the hard work of turning away an unsuitable consort (“Til You Win (The Ballad of LocaLisa)”) to the soul-shocking loss of an older brother (“How Come”) to, when he least expected it, the flowering of new love (“Mouse (In My Pocket)”).

An Honest Measure is a collection of musical styles and influences. “Mariposa” (Butterfly) is a neoclassical lament of the loss of innocence; Chris sings in Spanish as a tribute to his bicultural heritage (he was born in New York, but spent most of his childhood and youth in Mexico City). “Foggy Mountain Fog,” the album’s one instrumental, paints a picture of a misty mountain morning with Native American flute, Chris’s newest instrument (thanks to lessons from flutist David White Cloud). “Look Ma (Both Hands)” describes the joy of living in the Orange Circle, where great restaurants (like Felix Café) are just down the stairs and the fountain in the center of the Circle splashes water “as crisp as ice.” (Near the lights of that fountain, Chris proposed to his wife, writer/graphic artist Jennie Brown Hakim.)

A history of travel and many residential moves were clearly the inspiration for Chris’s nomadic anthem “Leaving Again,” which is in a way a quebradita gringa (a form of south-of-the-border two-step dancing). “Clay Mountain,” co-written with Charlie Peck in 2001, has become one of Chris’s staple songs within his vast circle of friends and fellow musicians. It was performed by Smokehouse Bucket, Mando-Mando Modern Minstrels (a mandolin duo consisting of Chris and his friend Dave), and at weekend-in-the-park gatherings.

Chris is quick to give credit where credit is due. “My recording engineer and producer, Justin Sturm, and co-producer, Jason Whisman, were invaluable in this endeavor. I will honestly say I could not have done it without them. It is truly on their shoulders that I stand so high. Thanks, guys.

Thanks, guys, indeed. And thanks to Chris, for showing us all what happens when a musician gives his honest measure.

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See and hear Chris play guitar and mandolin on YouTube.

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Chris's new app, "Clay Mountain," is available at the Google Play store. It's a's a's an adventure!

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