Chris Bullinger – True Rendition
Recorded in Nashville, TN these 12 songs that make up Chris Bullinger’s LP True Rendition (Drops Oct. 31–Independent) were produced by Harrison Luna & Josh Halper (guitar). Along with songs that are conceived through empathy, observation & rhythm Chris focuses on the human condition in a variety of retro-infused ways.
On first listen Chris doesn’t knock any walls down but does sculpt an interesting selection of tales that are often upbeat. The opener is related to the standard oom-pah-pah beat in “Moment of Happy,” a tune somewhat mindful of the late Roger Miller who always had funny little relatable tunes with similar melodic tendencies. Some are on the cusp of novelty but relayed in a splendid way.
All tunes seem to be draped in buoyant scenarios. From Miller-style Chris segues into J.J. Cale territory with “I’m Free,” & does a credible job. Not as edgy as Cale the mood is captured with resilience. Away from the country & alt-country textures, Bullinger goes lo-fi reggae in “Judas To My Jesus,” without getting too political, heavy-handed, or too tropical. The guitar has color & a danceable beat with a strong island melodic swipe. It’s rhymey but the song is clever without being a novelty.
“Look On Your Face,” dips generously into a 60s rockabilly style with an early Beach Boys breeze with a slight Ramones touch & vocalizations closer to Jan & Dean. This will put sand in your shoes even if you live in New York City.
Serious stuff comes surprisingly with a Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler-type guitar on “Prettier Than Death.” Good song that strides along at a good clip & is interesting. The guitar is fluid & has the necessary spark & energy.
Not everything works but it can be fun to sift through the cuts to find what suits your soul. Chris’ voice is a little thin to support a listener’s short attention span but what he does have is ample variety in his showcase. You do have to be patient & shuffle the cards a bit to find something to raise your own eyebrows.
The final cut “True Rendition,” has a more folky tempo. Chris’ voice is grittier than his regular pop vocal. That’s what makes it somewhat cool though it’s too rhymey — but that’s the structure of these types of songs. Dylan did it & Springsteen, too. Chris can be forgiven. If you have lots of nervous energy, feel uptight. Chris will soothe the wrinkles.
Musicians – Cameron Carrus (bass), Micah Hulscher (keys), Richard Bailey (banjo), Spencer Collum (pedal steel guitar), Mike Daly (dobro), Eli Bishop (fiddle/mandolin), Josh Minyard (percussion) & Bea Troxel (backup vocals).
Photo courtesy of Chris’ Twitter. Purchase CD @ https://www.chrisbullinger.com/