Peden, CSO Staff Journalist
With this week’s shipment (CDs sent along by publicists,
labels and wannabes looking for much needed promotion to their
latest self-funded clutch at fame) came an album by
Californian outfit, Big Rain. There’s nothing exciting in
that. But when I trawled through the publicity blurb and noted
this was a band best described as “the Eagles meets Delbert
McClinton by way of the Mavericks,” well, my interest moved
from casual to curious.
From the moment the laser
centered on “Sweet
Inspiration”, my curiosity enjoyed further reward. Not only
is the hype right on the dollar, but it’s a scripted nod to
the talent here. These guys–Bruce Guynn on lead vocals, bass
and keyboards, Peter Alaimo, harmony, lead and rhythm guitars
and James Chatterton on guitar and piano – are a tight unit.
In the musical mix adding to the harmony-driven trio is
drummer Chet McCracken. He’s best remembered as the man
behind the skins with the Doobie Brothers. Steel, fiddle, and
mandolin enjoy perfect pitch and play by respective talents,
Doug Livingston, Bobby Furgo and Ritchie Podolor.
After a chance meeting at a fitness centre in ’94, band
members Alaimo and Guynn found they shared more than weights
as a hobby: they both had a need to make music. They joined
collaborative forces, took their name from an observation of
constant down pourings, and the rest, as they say, comes heard
on their CD, the band’s first in this line-up, their fourth
The guys offer sharp and refined harmony and keen and
tempered instrumentation. A bonus comes with Guynn’s
songwritng (he claims credit on 9 of the 10 tracks); and as
added confirmation to the calibre of the tunes, the band has
already collared several envied placements on independent
charts. They have also enjoyed scattered praise from music
Melodic and engaging is the first cut, “Sweet
Inspiration”. Easy and light, the tune taps into idyllic
circumstances – love that’s uplifting and emotionally
fulfilling. It’s a safe opener. This is an album that
doesn’t stray into the unhomogenised; the music isn’t for
Saturday night suburban boot scooters or wound-licking bar
soaks. This is music that’s tagged middle-of-the-road – a
haven for those who like to listen rather than sweat with the
masses. And, to be honest, that’s okay. What these guys do,
they do well.
A standout on the album is the harmony rich but time
indulgent, too indulgent for commercial radio play at 5:44,
“December Night”. And yes, even on first play, shades of
the Eagles can be heard. Lead vocalist Bruce Guynn has a
steady and even-tempered pitch, commanding and confident; he
works his lyrics into an enjoyable listen. The rich harmony
offered by his band mates puts polish on tunes keenly crafted,
well played and delivered, if not in a true country setting,
then a soft rock alternative that shows promise.
Standout cuts: “Sweet Inspiration”, “December
Night”, “I’m Breaking Out” and the James Chatterton-penned,
The guys are worth a hunt and find. The tunes play out into
a relaxed format – more Eagles than hard-nosed early
Mavericks -- but if tight harmony and easy playing is your
umbrella from the prevailing crass elements on country radio,
check out Big Rain.
The album, produced by Ray Ruff, is out now on Oak Records.
Click on the CD cover to order yours!
|1: Sweet Inspiration
2: I’m Not Running
3: Angel In My Room
4: December Night
5: Sound Of Freedom
6: Valley Of Towers
|7: I’m Breaking Out
8: Las Vegas
10: Moment Of Honesty
11: Hotel Life
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