Chase Walker Band – Not Quite Legal | Album Review

chasewalkerbandcdChase Walker Band  – Not Quite Legal

Revved Up Music – 2016

13 tracks; 50 minutes

Chase Walker is an eighteen year-old Californian who started playing guitar seriously in 2010 when he attended one of Fernando Jones’ Blues Camp For Kids. On his debut album Chase plays guitar and sings lead vocal on most tunes with Randon Davitt on bass and Matt Fyke on drums.  All three add backing vocals, along with Jade Bennet-Mateo and April Stephenson; Drake Munkihaid Shining adds keyboards to the four tracks produced by Gino Matteo (Sugaray Rayford’s guitar player), Chase producing the remaining tracks himself.  Chase also wrote most of the material, Randon wrote one song and there are three covers.

In general we are at the rocky end of the blues spectrum here though there are some moments in which Chase plays resonator in a more traditional style. The four Gino Matteo-produced tracks include opener “Done Loving You” which sounds a little like Lynyrd Skynyrd with some resounding guitar and Drake’s organ beefing up the sound.  “New State Of Mind” is a mid-paced tune with both acoustic and electric guitars and Drake’s keys added to good effect, probably this reviewer’s pick of the album with its easy groove, catchy chorus of backing vocals and solid guitar licks.  “I Warned You” is clearly the product of a younger writer as Chase complains about her “not texting me back”, a pleasant piece of Americana with layers of guitars both acoustic and electric blended with Drake’s piano work. “It’ll Pass” again features Drake’s organ as Chase gets philosophical about life: “I don’t have to worry, it’ll pass.  I don’t know why I can’t give up, just move on; it will take some time to get used to being on my own but in that time I will learn to let you go”. A superbly played solo graces the middle section.

The rest of the album is self-produced and shows a wider range of styles but also a few moments that give rise to the ‘Parental Advisory’ sticker on the cover.  Probably the title “Don’t F It Up” would be sufficient but the lyrics of “Cold Hearted” also fit the bill; both songs contain strong language. “The Walk” is a song about a pretty girl who catches the eye, Chase finding a chunky riff to propel the tune and a tasty solo in the middle.  “Living On Thin Ice” contains some quite interesting observations but the distorted vocal technique detracts, as does the guitar which is pitched loud enough to take our attention away from the lyrics and the aggressive wah-wah solo did not work for this reviewer. Randon sings his own “Changed” and sounds fine on another mid-paced rocker with solid chorus vocals, a busy rhythm guitar riff and some over-enthusiastic soloing from Chase. The ‘hidden track’ “Yabba Dabba” is credited to all three band members but really should have stayed hidden with its radio announcer snippets set over some not very focussed playing (though Chase suddenly finds his inner Santana towards the end).

The three covers display an interesting range of influences on Chase’s development. A sparse resonator with a foot stomp opens a very different take on Hendrix’s “Red House”, Chase’s voice sounding good on the first verse before the full band joins in and he again adopts a distorted vocal which is far less easy on the ear though they do bring out the blues element in the tune;  Toots & The Maytals “54-46” brings some reggae into the band’s repertoire, Chase’s soaring solo sounding rather out of place here; a short take on The Wood Brothers’ “Honey Jar” finds Chase’s guitar riff dominating proceedings, almost drowning out his vocals.

Overall a very mixed bag.  The four tracks produced by Gino Matteo are all good and within the rest there are some good, but also some less well-judged moments.  It will be interesting to see which of the several roads shown here will be the one Chase and his band takes next time around.

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