I get a steady stream of new music for review.
I haven’t kept a log, but maybe one or two albums a day come in via mail, snail or electronic, and that doesn’t include EPs and singles. What this means is that I listen to a hell of a lot of good music. In the last two/three weeks for instance I have stunning new material from Colter Wall, Jonathan Byrd & the Pickup Cowboys, Gregory Alan Isakov, Loretta Lynn, Kevin Welch and Bottle Rockets.
There is a downside, however. There is only so much time in the day and, for me, there can be a sensory overload which requires a somewhat brutal filter to be applied in order to get to the point of choosing the subject of a review. Personally, the filter looms large for certain genres like blues and bluegrass where there appears to be many rules and strictures applying which can result in less diversity.
Sometimes, you just need to cleanse your musical palate. Find something that goes back to the basics, honors traditions but provides its own unique take.
Like Rest Heavy: The Sun Studio Sessions by Chad Elliott & The Redemptions.
Iowa singer-songwriter, artist and author, Chad Elliott, independently released the album this August. Ten soulfully-rocking original songs and one cover are displayed with skillful arrangements, a canny mix and treatment of roots rock, modern gospel and blues which underpins Elliott’s attractive gravelly delivery.
The self-produced album was recorded by Ples Hampton at the famed Sun Studio in Memphis, TN. Hampton said, “It was honestly one of the best sessions I’ve ever had up here. This is gold.”
Elliott, performing on acoustic guitar and harmonica, is joined by his full band, The Redemptions, which includes Tommy Lewis (electric guitar, harmonica, background vocals), Travis McFarlane (piano, B3 organ, keys), Kevin Boehnke (acoustic guitar, trumpet), Joseph Cafaro (upright bass), and Jim Van Dorn (drums).
For those of you who have visited the legendary studio on Union Avenue in downtown Memphis made famous by Sam Phillips, you will know that it is a special place, a-flowing with iconic musical spirits to which we are all indebted.
“I could, literally, feel the shift in the music just by walking through the doors at Sun Studio. The room seemed to have its own electric currency running through it and it made the songs come alive. We walked away feeling like we had an out of body experience. There were times I would just sit in the corners and look into the air of the room to see if that legendary music was still floating there, mixing with ours,” Elliott said.
The album presents music that is timeless, a glorious collection that uncovers and rediscovers the essential elements of the music by which we have all been hypnotised at some point. Immerse yourself in the pleading and uplifting title track, the country boogie of “Hills Of Tennessee”, the soft and large ballads “Shining Star” and “Alberta”, and the sparkling acoustic blues of “Dirty River/Catfish Blues”. It builds to a crescendo that is the emotionally charged and masterful “Water Under The Bridge”. The only cover, a trad. jazz two-step take on “St James Infirmary” is a perfect closer.
Get hold of Rest Heavy and don’t let go. Close your eyes and you’ll be back where Elvis, Johnny, Carl, Howlin’ Wolf created history.
Freshen your own palate.
Rest Heavy Track Listing:
1. Rest Heavy
2. Shy of Shameless
3. Hills of Tennessee
4. Shining Stars
5. Cadillac Problems, Buick Times
7. Slow Again
8. Dirty River/Catfish Blues
9. Embarcadero Street
10. Water Under the Bridge
11. St. James Infirmary
All songs written by Chad Elliott except “St. James Infirmary” (Anonymous)
via Dreamspider Publicity