Saturday, March 04, 2006

Steve Gilmore Reviews: The Chairs - Artist Overview

Artist: The Chairs
Title: Artist Overview

One of the real surprises of the past year or so from this reviewers angle has been my re-discovered liking for American traditional music. Country music, if ya like. Now, now, stop the sneering and the flaring of nostrils because I am not talking about rhinestone country I'm talking REAL country. Appalachian music (deriving from a blend of English, Scottish, Irish and French musical styles) is a prime example of where a lot of todays musical styles get their fire and energy, but N-O-T-H-I-N-G has the power of a hip-cracking bluegrass instrumental or the ear-bending beauty of the vocal harmony work associated with the style. The Chairs singlehandedly re-introduced me to this music over a year ago when my friend Mike Kohlgraf started playing the band's version of I See You Rider mercilessly on his Saturday Night Rocks radio show on Songplanet. Since then, the track (and several other Chairs tracks) have found great favour in my household and I wouldn't be caught dead holding a rhinestone anything....

So, I ain't gonna pass up the chance of 5 new tracks am I?

Right now the tracks are in listen only format and I have no idea whether they will be downloadable at some point, but even so I think I'd even attempt dialup to do it if I still lived in those dark days. In this Broadband world of ours though it's easy peasy lemon squeezy even if a more in-depth look may throw up some things I'd miss while having a few listens. First out is Katy Kline, a traditional bluegrass track that has all the Chairs hallmarks; faultless vocal performance, and an instrumental track that bolts along as if it's ass were on fire. So far, so country and I'm loving it. Tell me that you love me Katy Kline... Yeeeaaaawwwww. Darling Corey is another bluegrass standard with a much less in your face production than Katy and I'm not sure it fits the track but its still nonetheless a passionate performance from the band, even if the sound lets it down somewhat.

Sandy Boys is a track for fans of Celtic music and shows how deep into the whole genre the Chairs go for their inspiration, this is a track you could be hearing right now in any bar in Scotland or Ireland. It's to the bands eternal credit that they always deliver the authenticity this kind of material demands as a rite of passage from the musicians and they step up to the plate with commendable grace and charm. Little Satchel is a much more folk flavoured than most of the band's material but that dry, almost deadpan vocal delivery that marks out most Chairs tracks comes in and it automatically attaches itself to heart and toes with great speed. It's a charming song lyrically too. Will The Circle Be Unbroken is, of course, a classic track in its own right. Staple of the civil rights movement and a leading contender (along with We Will Not Be Moved) for official soundtrack of any rights movement, there is no way I couldn't get into this. The Chairs deliver it with the same easy authority they brought to I See You Rider and with much of the same charm. No matter whatever else you do this year, get yourself a listen to this band...

Proud of their heritage? You betcha!! American Classics never sounded better. Highly Recommended.

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