Glenn Chatten Baked Café
From the Yukon is veteran singer-songwriter Glenn Chatten who brings an invigorating Americana collection to his 7th LP in a 30-year career. At first, I thought his opener would be another environmental bellyache folk song on “One Land,” but no. It’s a well-constructed & performed exciting tune that celebrates the beauty of nature — with vivid Rebecca Law harmony vocals.
Chatten doesn’t have a distinctive Gordon Lightfoot tone, Bruce Cockburn edge & Alfie Zappacosta pipes – but he has sincerity to his performance, his original songs & vocal approach all make decisive statements.
“Float On the Water,” is simple but so seamlessly weaved that Glenn doesn’t come off as a standard-bearer folky. He has experience & it’s evident. The instrumentation is key. The musicians unleash their creativity piece by piece with no bombastic endeavors. It’s articulate, fascinating how Glenn gets the simplicity to sparkle as it does. The title track “Baked Café,” with its violin strains, percussion, acoustic guitars & Chatten’s faithful vocals translate well.
Baked Café (Independent-Drops May 7) is intriguing, to say the least. “Liam’s Lylt” (with Ken Cade’s violin), “Sima,” are instrumentals & the expressive “38 Below,” each have thudding Jaco Pastorius bass (Don Benedictson) that thumps. Glenn’s finger-style acoustic guitar has clarity. It all shimmers. Then with added violin color on “Liam’s Lylt,” it’s quite a little Yukon intermezzo. Each song is superb even though “38 Below” has a slight B-52’s Fred Schneider vocal tint.
Sarah Hamilton adds 2nd violin, Lonnie Powell provides drums, Annie Avery (piano/organ) & Ben Feltmate (harmonica on the 12-bar shuffle “Basil’s Blues”). Lots of talent surprisingly in the Yukon. This is a tight unit, redolent & evocative. “Hard Rock Harry,” is a gourmet of sound & again little things add up beautifully, the violin, intricate acoustic guitar picking & Rebecca Law harmony vocals. Wonderful.
The 14-cut has an invigorating interplay between the instruments. That aside, it’s the precision & tiny slices of imagination that holds these songs together. Chatten sings with vigor – sometimes in an old fashion style but always with a full-throated John Stewart swing. Some may not find this exciting because it isn’t anything new. It’s just presented in a refreshing style.
One of the most upbeat cuts is “B18” which would appeal to most listeners. Chatten lays down a groove that is thick & somewhat more commercial. “Build a Longer Table,” is the LPs jewel. This has lift, it’s inventive, imaginative & it’s wonderfully performed. The addition of Rebecca’s vocal comes as a surprise & when Glenn & Ms. Law sing together it projects with ebullience.
You can find beautiful people in almost part of the world – and I guess you can find qualified musicians & singers like Glenn Chatten & Rebecca Law – even in the Yukon. Bundle up.
This has no tedium; each song is exceptional. Produced by Bob Hamilton (dobro/mandolin/pedal steel) CD is available @ http://www.glennchatten.com/