For the past five years, Chris Chown has been gigging regularly throughout Southern Ontario. The hot, young musician from London, Ontario has made a lasting impression with his searing guitar playing. At age 11, he picked up the guitar and "became obsessed with it." He has played with and mentored under Detroit’s Chicago Pete and fellow London blueser Chris Murphy. Now 20, Chown has released his second CD.
My, my what an ally Father Time can be. In Chown’s case it has benefited him greatly. On this self-titled, self-produced 2nd CD, Chris comes across as a mature artist who excels as a confidant blues musician. Unlike the initial effort, which mainly featured covers, the new CD contains 10 tunes and 8 are originals. This works to Chris’ advantage by ensuring a distinctive sound which was missing from the ‘Stompin Grounds’ debut. Chown handles all the guitar and vocals on the disc which was recorded over a few short days. Only the vocals and occasional rhythm guitar were overdubbed. Ryan Spong remains on bass while newcomer Chuck Keeping plays the skins.
This disc is proof of Chown’s finely developed songwriting and guitar playing. This time around, the guitar solos are his own. Sure, you still detect the influences of Hendrix, B.B. King, Gary Moore and SRV but no longer does Chown duplicate them. Time has taught the guitarist to slow down and limit the amount of notes played during solos. He now plays passionately with quality instead of quantity. Just listen to the heartfelt solo on "Hear You Cry". Another example is found in "What’s What" which ironically appears as track 10 on both discs. The new version is shorter and slower and contains more depth and feeling. Chown’s vocals have come a long way too. However; he is still a stronger guitar player by far. The CD has a real Texas Blues feel to it. No doubt this is thanks to Chris’ time spent in Austin. Three songs in particular have that Lone Star State groove to them: "Who’s Talkin’ Bout My Baby", "Walk Out That Door" and "Crying Won’t Make Me Stay" with a guitar solo ala Guitar Slim’s infamous Things I Used To Do.
Chown uses his Stratocaster to lay down an outright assault attack on a cover of "The Hunter". He turns the number into a burning rocker that would have Coco Montoya and Ronnie Baker Brooks green with envy. The CD’s other cover is "I’m Not Ashamed". Chris gives it a real R&B flavor. "Times Is Hard" is a heavy blues played in the vein of Albert King. For an example of the finest in contemporary blues, listen to the instrumental "Looking Back". Its the type of song you expect to hear at a Carl Weathersby gig.
If you enjoy modern electric blues guitar played with a rock edge then this CD is for you. Its brief 40 minutes will ensure the CD player is left on replay. Years ago Chris decided to "be something more than just a regular guitar player and be known as one of the greatest guitar players." Based on his performances on this CD, he is well on his way to achieving his goal.
For CDs, booking and information, contact: Linda Chown Tel: (519) 657-5452
Band website: www.chrischown.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Tim Holek, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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