Album Review

Tenzin Chopak's "Awful Good" Lives Up To Its Title

Tenzin Chopak - Awful Good

Part of the communal combine that frequently bills itself as Rockwood Ferry, Tenzin Chopak has assumed many guises throughout his career, regularly veering into the realms of prog, chamber folk, world beat, trance, electronica and improvisational music while enthusiastically collaborating with whatever musicians are eager to embrace his vision. Chopak’s versatility on a variety of instruments (guitar, piano, bass, cello and voice) and his deeply rooted spiritual beliefs (a devotee of Tibetan culture and religion, he was given his present name during an eight month sabbatical in northern India), imbue his music with both a rustic and religious regimen, providing his work with a mystic sheen in the process. Awful Good is the fourth album under his own aegis, and with songs that veer from mournful to mirthful, it’s an unmistakably singular sound that’s grounded in rootsy reflection and timeless trappings, yet as earnest and assertive as any heartland homily. Many of the entries convey a certain solace -- the fiddle-strewn title track, the hushed "Wild Boys," the reflective “Tell Queeny,” and the mellow “Let Yourself Fall” in particular -- the soothing sentiments are consistently affecting, allowing most of these tracks to offer an immediate if somewhat eerie impression. Being the son of a minister who was reared in the rural environs of East Tennessee could account for Chopak’s grounded delivery, but it likely also has to do with his thoughtful mindset as well. While Awful Good certainly lives up to its name, it also harbors a deep sense of thoughtful propriety, which makes these songs all the more auspicious, and lovely as well.