Chris Blake learned to play the guitar on a one hundred-dollar blue Johnson that his dad bought him at a local pawn shop. A hundred dollars well spent, for it pushed Blake into discovering a hidden passion that is now starting to bear fruit. In the fall of 2019, Blake released his very first collection of original songs in the form of his EP Doubles, a compilation of songs that each represent a different facet of who Blake is and the experiences that he has endured. Growing up in Middlesboro, Kentucky, Blake found himself infatuated with country music during his school days when he discovered the music of Eric Church, instilling in him the idea that being a country music performer was exactly what he wanted to be.
The EP Doubles features five songs either written or co-written by Blake and he self-proclaims that each track captures distinct chapters in his own life. The song “Blue Collar” kicks off the EP on a solid note with a rocking country beat celebrating the working class and the individuals that help get them through the rough times. The second track on the EP called “Uturn” is a song that Blake wrote after going through a bad breakup. “It was a constant back and forth”, says Blake, “I can remember driving back home from her house and I wanted to turn around and go back, but I didn’t. That song came from a lot of hurt and sadness but I wouldn’t change a thing.” The track serves as a strong follow up to the opening number demonstrating a vulnerable and emotional side of Blake by diving into a situation that truly affected him. Country music at its best pulls on the heartstrings of its listeners, and “Uturn” is most certainly a song that does just that.
Speaking of pulling on heartstrings, the third track on the EP “Jim Beam & King James” was co-written by Cyndee Gray Harr, a collaborator Blake wrote with for nearly two years before she suddenly passed away at the age of 52. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to cope with. But she will always be alive and living through my music and songs.” The song concerns a man in a tug of war between temptation and salvation as he battles internal demons with the bottle. In the last verse of the song, he declares that he needs King James – signifying that his internal faith will overpower his temptations and see his way through as he navigates life’s hardships. Harr sings harmony on the track with Blake.
The song “I’ve Been Told” closes out the EP with a weeping pedal steel seeping through the melodic guitar strums exhibiting Blake’s smooth country sound. The song discloses the adversity Blake has had to overcome with people telling him to quit music altogether and then closes the song out thanking those that have lifted him up and supported him along the way. Blake’s drive and determination to carve out his own path in country music has been encapsulated through his work on his debut EP – it is also a love letter to the ones that have supported him and a major milestone in his journey to prove his detractors wrong. Make sure you keep your eyes and ears open for whatever Blake does next on his musical journey and check out Doubles wherever you consume your digital music.
Doubles was produced by Matt McQueen and recorded at Gem City Studios in Jellico, Tennessee.
Chris Blake – Doubles (2019)
1. Blue Collar
3. Jim Beam & King James
5. I’ve Been Told