Close to Home
Absolute Timeless Heartbreaking, Heart Swelling and Toe-Tapping Roots Rock Genius.
When this album arrived 6 or 7 weeks ago I just couldn’t stop playing it; possibly to the cost of a few that were due for review! Subsequently I had to hide it and bring it out again yesterday; and, do you know what?
It’s even better now than then!
Chuck Mead is a name I’ve been aware of for nigh on forever; but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a note from him, which is possibly what makes CLOSE TO HOME such an exciting discovery for me.
If I’d read the Press Release there would have been a clue as to what to expect when I’d have read the big and bouncy Rockabilly extravaganza Big Bear in the Sky was recorded at Sun Studios (as was the whole album); man alive, I distinctly remember cranking the car stereo up to 9 that first day after about 30 seconds.
Things slow down afterwards with the slinky I’m Not The Man For The Job, which has a delicious Tex-Mex back-beat over Mead crooning his little broken heart out a’la Raul Malo at his finest and later on the title track Close To Home he somehow channels his inner Hank in both words and sentiment..
Depending on your tastes (and like me, I know you have great taste) Mead somehow manages to encapsulate just about every angle of Classic Roots music here, bar Folk with Class and aplomb while creating timeless little Musical love-grenades along the way.
There are plenty of songs here for you can dance your socks off with Daddy Worked The Pole being the first song you can Jive too I’ve heard in decades and There’s Love Where I Come From being a one that you will clutch each other to near death as you smooch in the flickering late night lights.
If I had the time and the space I’d love to scream my praise for each and every song here; especially the heart melting My Baby’s Holding Me Down and the swinging Tap Into Your Misery which would have been Fonz’s favourite on the Jukebox in Al’s Diner.
Oh man! Selecting a Favourite Song has been an absolute nightmare, as there are so many contenders; but I’ve managed to whittle it down to two, with the Runner-Up being ……. Billy Doesn’t Know He’s Bad which may or may not be about Billy The Kid or more likely the kid down your street called Billy, who’s ‘gone off the rails’. A clever and thought provoking song, with a water tight beat and harmonies that the Crickets in their prime would have been rightly proud of. But the winner is ……… The Man Who Shook The World; which has Chuck going full on scuzzy and menacing Rock & Roll on a song about ‘shaking the hand of the man who shook Elvis’s hand!’ In it’s own little way this just might be 3 minutes of sheer and unadulterated brilliance ….. or perhaps I’m a lovesick fool.
While I understand Mead has been ploughing a furrow like this since his BRS-49 days; for me I’m hearing a heady mix of Hank, George, Jerry Lee and Wayne The Train somewhere and sometimes crammed together in each and everyone of these fantastic Rocking and Rolling Rootsy Love Songs.
Released 21st June 2019