Friday, February 13, 2015

Robert Chaney -- Cracked Picture Frames

Usually when an artist includes a lyric booklet with their press materials, it's a pretty brassy move. It's like a claim that the written word transcends the music.

In Robert Chaney's case, it was exactly the write move. His Dylan-inspired drawl and asymmetrical guitar work certainly elevate his lyrics to a higher level, but his writing is so lush and richly imagined that you'll want to make sure you put in the extra work to get all of the details.

Chaney, a Florida native who relocated to London (of all places) to jump-start his writing career, says that he was heavily influenced by foreign films while writing this album. It makes sense when you hear the songs -- not only are the lyrics cinematic in scope, but you get the sense that the music down to Chaney's vocal performance are a soundtrack that supports the story told in the song. The album opens with "Black Eyed Susan," a carefully spun story of a tormented abuser:

I said one of these days I'll quite this for good
But did I mean the woman
Or did I mean the beatin'
Or did I mean the seemingly cowardly being
Crumbling under a burden of choosin'
And I'm the one being torn from the inside
But she's the one that's bruisin'

We're never asked to sympathize with the narrator, nor is he portrayed as any kind of hero. He simply is, and Chaney is the dispassionate narrator who brings his world to us.

The other songs on the album deal with similarly heavy topics, though Chaney's playful blues guitar and omniscient voice never lets the music become heavy-handed. Overall, this is a monumental work and a truly impressive debut album. If there's justice in the world, this album will make ripples on both sides of the Atlantic.

Robert Chaney -- Official, Facebook, Purchase

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