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Big Rain
By: George 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 release overall. 

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 critics.

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, “Las Vegas”. 

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
9: Waiting
10: Moment Of Honesty
11: Hotel Life

Related Links:
Official Site  

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