Chuck Prophet

“You can make a doubter out of Jesus” says Chuck, on this album, bemoaning a faithless lover. It’s quite an uptempo number, carrying an eighties tone to it that clashes with a lot of the Americana / blues feel of the rest of the album. The title track, Soap And Water, is a blueser and more of what you’d expect from the man.

Chuck Prophet used to be half of delightfully f-d up country-rockers, Green On Red. The core two could be spot on form and drag your heart out or a shambolic set of chancers. They appeared to take an organic approach – we’ll play it loose and whatever happens, happens – so allowing chaos to fall but opening the door to heaven too. In a typical Green On Red moment, they managed to split up just before the whole Americana thing hit big. Chuck is known for his live gigs, in small venues around the country, and with history like that, there ought to be a strength to what he does. This is a solid set of songs, that creep up and move you, from the loving Freckle Song (“I love the way you freckle, I love the way you peel”) to the warning of “A woman’s voice can drug you”.

There’s a straight line to the lyrics of the blues in Let’s Do Something Wrong (“I always did the right thing, What did it get me”) coupled to a slightly eighties production and a children’s’ backing chorus…. Later he can see “you’re leaking from the corner of your eye”. The dragging sad melancholic Naked Ray tells us about his sister who “left a Realistic stereo and a phone that don’t ring anymore”.

The rattle bag of an album was recorded in Nashville and, as Chuck says “we goofed on some agitated single coil cubist junk, got serious with the spring reverb on mournful ballads”. Hence the occasional odd arrangement clashing with the stronger, more familiar rootsier stuff. Stuff like the closer, Happy Ending pleases with its ca-chunk, ca-chunk beat and resigned happy-sadness – “I don’t know when to fold, that was your claim to fame, But I must say, you’re looking good for this late in the game”. Nice to see he’s still at it and turning out albums like this which are as good a jumping-on point as any.

Ross McGibbon