Chris Bullinger – How To Bleed
This Midwest singer-songwriter is a bit different with his raw gritty vocals that would be perfectly suitable for the blues. Chris may not have the Josh Groban deepness or Elvis’ power but what he does possess is bite & he applies that vocal filigree with the authenticity required of such songs. Jon Dee Graham, Buddy Miller & Tom Waits all employ this open circuit gustiness & it gives the songs their character.
While the opening track “Roll Your Own,” is excellent it’s the second one “Up On Blocks,” that is superb. This is the stuff that gets into your ear & sticks there like bubble gum in your hair. The guitars are wonderful with their spikey notes & Chris’ Louis Armstrong gone rock showcase.
The 12-track How To Bleed (Drops Aug 15-Independent) recorded in Nashville & produced by Josh Halper & Harrison Luna deals in part with the struggles of a man who has been dealt a difficult hand but tries to persevere. Moments about the human condition. While this kind of music is for selective tastes it does have a tempting “grow on you” clarity. The songs are all well-conceived, rocks pretty good & the music is proficient though recorded a little spare (may have been intended that way). It doesn’t play a big role since the center of the compositions is Chris’ precise raw vocals.
The CD as a whole is diversified, vivid & easily holds the attention of a listener. No condiments in these tunes, it’s a cake that is served up like coffee cake, or pound cake – it doesn’t need sugar coating or frosting.
The showcase is more a rock LP than an Americana batch but rock music, good rock music is an Americana-roots genre. This has the traditional drive of Rocky Burnett (“Tired of Toein’ the Line”), early Johnny Cash & Steve Earle. It reeks of lovely infectious melodies with sharp beats, jangly guitars & energy.
I’m familiar with Chris’ work from a previous review & I still find him an interesting prospect as a musician & singer. The songs are all well-written & never lag in their presentation. “Deep Blue Sea,” has a nice old-fashioned melody & instrumental application similar to what Bob Dylan used on his “Love & Theft,” & “Time Out of Mind,” tunes. Nice touch.
Criticism: Chris needs a professional photography session – he’s a handsome guy with wild hair like Procol Harum’s Geoff Whitehorn — he needs a nice set of hi-res images & not the Instamatic camera or Polaroid support.
Highlights – “Roll Your Own,” “Up On Blocks,” “As I Am,” “How To Bleed,” “Flowers In the Rain,” “Devil Come a-Knockin’,” “Deep Blue Sea,” “Your Rock n’ Roll” & “Outrunnin’ Love.”
Color image courtesy of Chris’ website/PR office. CD @ https://www.chrisbullinger.com/