To some, it might seem strange that a singer/songwriter from the Great White North, aka Canada, would elect to write, play and sing what is affectionately known as Americana music, a blending of folk, country, blues and rock and roll. But that's precisely what Andre Chrys, who resides in Vancouver, British Columbia, does. And he does it well. In fact, his new album, 'Window to Nowhere' contains eight tracks reminiscent of the heady days of such performers as Mickey Newberry, J.J. Cale, John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett. The songs on the album emanate a definite country bluesy echo; the guitar notes are muggy, the arrangements are sticky and the melodies are thick and gooey.
Chrys' lyrics speak of love and loss, happiness and sorrow. It's easy to sing along because the lyrics never feel forced or artificial. Chrys does not cater to the tastes and preferences of the musical elite. There is not a smidgen of anything false, doctrinaire, shrill, shallow, uncertain, eclectic, jejune or insincere in his lyrics or his music.
The only flaw on 'Window to Nowhere' is Chrys' voice. It's not a bad voice; in fact, it's a good voice. It's just not a great voice. There's nothing distinctive about it. For some reason, it's arid, lacking emotional appeal. It lacks the vast primitive power of J.J. Cale or Mickey Newberry. And when all is said and done, Americana music demands a certain primitive intensity to make it real, to make it work, to make it listenable.
The first track on the album is 'Getting Away With It', a song about con-men, who, by means of lies and tawdry tricks, seem to continually get away with it. A country western nasality pervades the tune, providing it with an O' Brother Where Art Thou sensibility - country on the verge of becoming hillbilly. 'The Velvet Rut' is a simple, melodic tune accompanied by the wonderful fiddling of Aiden Briscall. It's the kind of tune that Quentin Tarantino would inject at just the right moment in Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill.
'Old Volvo' is Chrys' ode to the significance of cars in American culture. And the Bonnie Raitt-like song, 'Falling Apart', might be the best track on the album. For it's here that Chrys slows things down, which allows him to utilize his voice most efficiently. His voice is still mechanical and predictable, but because he's not as dependent on projecting his voice, the song offers a better vehicle for his overly polite vocals.
A point of interest to audiophiles is that the album was recorded at Afterlife Studios, in Vancouver, using analog rather than digital recording apparatus. A vinyl edition of the album will be available. Other musicians appearing on the album include: Jeff Younger on guitar; Bill Briscall on bass; and Mike Magnusson on drums.
'Window to Nowhere' is a good album, with stellar songwriting. It is well-worth listening to and for those listeners with turntables, the vinyl edition may prove noteworthy, given the analog recording. If Chrys' voice were more distinctive, 'Window to Nowhere' would be de rigueur. Perhaps Chrys will soak his vocal chords in whiskey and begin smoking three packs a day. That, of course, would ruin his health but it might benefit his singing.
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