3 Times 7 – Rain in Chicago
CD: 12 Songs, 50 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Rock, Funk, Soul, All Original Songs
Have you ever been to the House on the Rock in Wisconsin? Opened to the public in 1960 and featured in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods TV series, it features the extensive and eclectic collections of one Alex Jordan. Want to see the world’s largest carousel? It’s there, although you can’t ride it. Entertained by Burma Shave signs? A whole bunch are there, arranged in series. Do you wish to marvel at crown jewels, eerie dioramas, and mystic fortune-telling machines? Check, check and check. Everything you’d ever dreamed of seeing in a museum (or not) is displayed. The newest CD from the UK’s 3 times 7, Rain in Chicago, is kind of like the House on the Rock. It features twelve unique, genre-defying tracks that are hard to pin down but marvels to behold. The only true blues song on the album is number nine, “Graveyard Blues.” The others run the gamut from funk to rock to soul to alternative to all of the above to none of the above. No joke.
Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining collage of postmodern tunes. The band’s lead female vocalist, Jenny Lawrence, is a cross between Norah Jones and Natalie Merchant. She’s got the dulcet tones of the former and the quivering vibrato of the latter, all while providing spice of her own. Her musical partner, David Holdstock, makes his guitar tell quirky stories all the while. Additional musicians include Jax Sax on saxophone; Matt Ainsworth on drums; Phil Marks and Roger Wagner on bass; Dan Mulcahy and Graham Noon on organ, and Oliver Williams and the Brook Choir on backing vocals.
“Money to Burn” sets the tone (however shifting and polymorphic) for the album, a frenetic ballad about love and “what it’s worth to you.” Imagine the streets of London at rush hour, pedestrians skittering every which way, our narrator chasing down an errant partner. That’s the vibe the song gives off: jittery and energizing. Next is the funky “I Like It When It Rains (in Chicago.)” The hilarious liner notes reveal a tweet from Kentucky State Representative Chuck Paul: “Climate change is such a bad thing, right liberals?” Who knew a political song could be so addictive and danceable? Despite its title, “Gospel Blues” is NOT blues, but a ‘50s-style rocker with good harmony on the chorus. The real highlight, however, is “Murder on the Bayou.” Honestly, it should be in a movie, perhaps one based off a Stephen King or Clive Barker novel.
“Don’t take my man just like the other men,” the protagonist warns before committing the titular crime. “I begged you, please, don’t take him, but you did it anyway. I shot her down and I shot again. I warned her once and I shot again.” Horrific and haunting, this song’s spelled “earworm.” Oliver Williams and the Brook Choir provide beautiful background vocals, and Graham Noon provides gently understated piano. If the guitar solo in the middle doesn’t move you, what will?
Rain in Chicago may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but others will hit lucky 21 with 3 Times 7!