Album Review

Chris Stalcup & The Grange – Dixie Electric Company

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Chris Stalcup’s newest creation, a veritable who’s who of Georgia musicians lovingly known as the Grange, is a much more mature sound for Stalcup.  Their album, Dixie Electric Company, is a little more stripped down than former band Chase 56’s 2010 record Allatoona Rising. The latter was an alt-country staple, in my modest opinion.  Not to say this isn’t a damn good rock album, it’s every bit of that, but with some Georgia soul interspersed.  He put together a line-up of veteran musicians including Chase 56 bass player Jim Vollrath, multi-instrumentalist Jon Daly, Paul Barrie on the drum kit, and Bret Hartley handling the lead guitar work with Stalcup.  All of these pieces to the puzzle are Atlanta music scene pillars, which genuinely holds true when listening to the record. 

Dixie Electric Company is a collection of eleven songs encapsulated in heartbreaking tales from death and failed relationships to lost loves and road trips.  The album opens with the title track telling the story of the Airstream trailer Stalcup purchased from an old preacher who had recently lost his son to a motorcycle accident.  This is the type of deep content on which damn near every song on the album is permeated, a definite high note for sad song enthusiasts such as myself.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of foot stompin’ rock songs, but they're mostly written about darker sides of life’s experiences. Songs like “California”, the rockabilly offering “Pawnshop,” and the revisited Chase 56 live show favorite “Into The Wind,” will satisfy anybody’s Americana-rock craving.  The record is a perfect balance of sad songs to rock songs: “Dixie Electric Company,” “Eastern Stars,” and “Caroline” are a few highlights of the former.

Dixie Electric Company is very well-produced with multi-layered backing instruments, haunting pedal steel guitar fills, and some exceptional horn work to point out a couple.  They serve Stalcup's vocal delivery very well, which I can easily pin point as early Mark Kozolek if he had an inspired weekend of Gram Parsons, some whiskey, and some Stax ‘45s.  Whether he's with Chase 56, solo, or with the Grange, it's damn near impossible to not respect Stalcup’s dedication and love for the music he makes.  There is real heartbreak there, whether his or those around him, and he definitely uses his songs as an outlet for that.  I know this record has been out for a while but it deserves a nod and I’m damn excited to hear what’s next from this cohesive unit.  There are some shows booked in the Southeast this summer and, if you’re geographically permitted, those should not be missed.

http://thegrange.bandcamp.com/

***Please visit Sad Songs Keep The Devil Away at www.ssktda.com for more musings*** +Words by Scott Zuppardo+