Chris Church: Darling Please – album review

christian church

darling please

Large Star Discs

Available now (CD/DL)

Newly remastered reissue of Chris Church’s Darling Please album, originally recorded in 2011 and dedicated to his late brother Mike. Chris played all the instruments himself with Lindsay Murray on backing vocals and Nick Bertling overseeing the mixing. Ian Canty is careful with his manners…

Chris Church’s album, Darling Please, originally only received a limited edition of 50 copies in 2011 and, another oddity, it didn’t credit the artist. It was the first solo album from the hive of activity where he played everything, but unfortunately he was far from happy with the sound he finally got. The result is that the brief availability of this recording was not followed at the time by a larger pressing. Church toyed with the idea of ​​reusing the songs on other projects or just re-recording the whole thing. He finally decided to see if there was a way to manipulate the original recordings into something close to his vision for the LP.

At first, the efforts proved problematic, with the LP’s two-track stereo mix being the only source available for the necessary tone upgrade. But Nick Bertling’s magical studio talents came into play last year and Lindsay Murray came on board to add the right touch to the backing vocals. After last year’s Game Dirt LP (review here), Darling Please was finally deemed fit for the world to hear it properly.

It’s a good thing Chris had faith in the record, because what’s there is well worth taking the time to hear in its newly achieved clarity. What’s revealed is a likable set of smart, bittersweet songs allied to a full-throttle, rock-and-loud sonic attack, very rock but with some great tunes too. There’s a dusty, fuzzy electric hum over most of the record that could have the effect of feeling like you’re in the grip of a misty dream, that is, if the songs didn’t sound like not deal with a harsh reality. tinged with acid humor.

A bell rings then History fades to introduce us to the world of Darling Please. The beat moves slowly at first, until guitar blasts arrive, the cryptic words helping to paint a picture of a real but fragmentary world, far removed from easy-to-wrap fictional stories. The thumping beat of We’re Going Downtown propels a song that alludes to the loneliness of the crowd and sadly declares, “We’re at the end of our prank and the rope is on me.”

Pillar To Post (not the song Aztec Camera) evokes the natural need to flee rather than make a difficult decision. The music shines positively with the golden tones, brimming with fuzzy guitar energy. Seeming to reverse the traditional sappy love song, Never So Far Away looks at both sides of the issue through cynically rendered eyes and does so musically with excellent hook and arrangement. It’s a reminder of the fact that the words on this album are blessed with the kind of wisdom that comes with a heavy emotional cost. The sound achieved here is also perfect and says a lot about Nick Bertling’s work and, although Chris despises his drumming abilities in the liner note, they certainly do a good job. It’s also the first point where it becomes clear that Lindsay’s voice merges so elegantly with Church’s across the album and even the years.

Atlantic’s headlong goal provides the backing for what is a close-to-class duo and the words “and you were never mine to keep” accurately underscore the transient nature of human relationships. There’s some great guitar work here that really creaks, adding to what is a smartly delivered and touching slice of pop/rock. Bad Summer continues the melancholic thrust of the lyrics, but it is juxtaposed with a brilliant and irrepressible beat. In other hands, it might read as an exercise in self-pity, but Church is such a deft hand that his lyrics are heartfelt, realistic, and not without hope. It’s more about enjoying the ups and acknowledging the downs, which after all are a part of almost everyone’s life.

The great work between Chris and Lindsay’s vocals continues throughout the album, with a more laid-back I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry hitting the right spot. There’s a sharp humor accompaniment throughout Darling Please, with the opening verse – “Space, the final frontier, we’ve got bullshit between our ears” – putting the fallibility of the protagonists into context. Then Nepenthean slows to a plodding march with a heavily distorted guitar rattle, contrasted by the celestial song.

We Could Pretend picks up the pace, a story of people bound together by time and circumstance, bravely trying to make the best of bad luck. Musically, it feels a bit like a dead end in the desert between the start of REM and the end of the Husker Dü period, which isn’t a bad place at all if you have an oasis (not the band) within reach. hand. Triple Crown’s final offering caps it all off with haunting, hypnotic momentum. We glide to the commentary-enhanced conclusion with a genuine sense of pure beauty, as well as the mystery and possibilities of the eternal present.

I’m glad Chris chose to revisit Darling Please because it would be such a shame if these bitter, funny and evocative songs weren’t heard. The fact that they are taken so lucidly is a testament to Nick Bertling and also to the combined talents of Church and Lindsay Murray. It all adds up to a beautiful record of admirable depth, insight, power and melody.

Chris Church is on Facebook here and his Bandcamp site is here

All the words of Ian Canty – see his author profile here

Jerry B. Hatch