CRACKED PICTURE FRAMES - ROBERT CHANEY
Release date: 15th February, 2015
Record Label: Jagged Lines
Cracked Picture Frames is a great piece of Southern Gothic blues from a singer-songwriter from Fort Lauderdale, Florida who is now based in London. This debut album has almost a feel of a Coen Brothers or film noir movie soundtrack and it plays out as a series of powerful personal short stories of often love, loss and reflection. Inspired by some of the great folk and blues artists of the past, this album also has a timeless retro vibe. Robert's has a great feel for melody and his lyric and storytelling ability is very impressive.
After Robert moved to London he met producer Ken Brake at an open-mic session and the two started working together and Cracked Picture Frames resulted from sessions in Regal Lane Studios, near Regent’s Park, with the songs simply recorded in one or two takes. Robert admits, “Some of the songs on this album are a couple years old, and some were written the day before they were recorded. This is my first album, so I guess you could say they were all written with this record in mind, but ultimately we chose the best 10 that sat coherently together.”
The first song on the album is the dark, broody and powerful story of Black Eyed Susan. A sad tale of domestic violence and it's aftermath. With the police knocking on the doors in the early hours of the morning. 'The cracks in the doorframes, holes in the walls and the weeds in the garden' are excellent metaphors for the corrupted paradise, the 'happily ever after' that this couple once dreamed of. Another story about relationships is The Morning After, “I always hate the morning after, lipstick on the champagne glass, Your hair upon the pillow telling truth where you were lying,” ...."and so it goes the reddest rose, the sharpest spine so often grows"
Does you Love Pay Out in Full continues the unlucky in love theme and Robert admits, “When I write about real life I try to be as honest as possible. I’ve been in my fair share of shitty relationships and tried to portray them accurately.” Here love is a game that can’t be won and Robert sings, “I don’t harbour any blame don’t want to hear the reasons why you quit, I don’t hate the player, I don’t even hate the game, I only hate the fact I fell for it."
The bluesy Patch It Up is one of our favourite songs on the album and carries the feeling of trying to put things right after a broken and stormy relationship. It is also the track where the album title comes from. Full of beautiful crafted metaphors Patch it Up shows that the weather has changed for the worse and the leaking roof serves for the damage done.
With it's stripped back guitar sound and heartfelt lyrics, relationships once again feature in The Simplest Words. "Spare us the missing, kissing, crying, fighting, loving curse it does not suit us, I’ve got mine and you’ve got yours." Love is also at the heart of The Cyclist, but it’s infidelity and comes with a heavy price in cleverly plotted noir tale involving an accident.
I Didn't want her anyway looks back at a relationship with mixed feelings. Describing his lost love Robert tries to convince himself he didn't love her. 'I got this woman I wish it werent so and the things that I've learned, I don't want to know. That net that we've woven is beginning to fray....I know I didn't want her anyway.' Birds and Bees is a simply stripped banjo led track which once again is full of clever metaphors.
Corozones Amarillos (Yellow Hearts) a song written after Robert visited Costa Rica, where yellow hearts are painted on roads to symbolise fatal accidents. A combination of dangerous roads and reckless driving creates a high mortality rate. The song features the sad accident of a yellow school bus in San Jose that crashed and spun down a bank in the rain. This is a great song live as you can see below.
Closing the album is The Ballad of Edward and Lisa, a weird but sad true story that has more fateful cruelty. It’s a fervid mixture of religious zeal and outright weirdness, with a young boy Ed stabbed in both eyes and left to bleed while his grandmother looks on. This is a grisly portrait that suggests religion can corrupt and fan the flames of troubled minds, as easily as provide any notion of salvation and peace.
Cracked Picture Frames is clever, sharp, intelligent, thoughtful-provoking and moving....you can’t fail to be impressed. It will be very interesting seeing what Robert does next. Definitly a singer-songwriter to watch in 2015.