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Chris Stills - 'Don’t Be Afraid' Album Review


1. This Summer Love

2. Hellfire Baby Jane

3. In Love Again

4. Daddy’s Little Girl

5. Lonely Nights

6. The Weekend

7. Criminal Mind

8. Blame Game

9. Don’t Be Afraid

10. Leaving You Behind

11. In The Meantime

You know when you are getting old when you remember watching footballers, who now have sons playing in top teams. The same is true in music. So I was very interested in hearing Chris Stills new album. For Chris comes from good stock. Stills is the son of American Rock musician Stephen Stills, from Crosby, Stills and Nash and French singer-songwriter Veronique Sanson. The album, was 10 years in the making and charts a turbulent time for Chris. It is a personal record which deals with the break up of his marriage and his obvious love and guilt for his two daughters.

The album deceptively starts with the light and flowing 'This Summer Love' which seems to be chronologically reversed as it deals with the fear of finding someone after a deep relationship has previously failed. It is an easy lead into the album. The catchy melody is complimented with Chris' effortless vocal. 'In Love Again' also deals with fear of falling in love again, and is an expansive track which ebbs and flows.

'Daddy’s Little Girl,” is a song for his daughters, and is very poignant. As all fathers can relate to, it deals with the fact that daughters will grow up and find someone who they will settle down with. At some stage a father will have to give their girls away but a father will always be there for their little girl. It is a sweet heartfelt song. One of the stand out tracks on this album is ‘Leaving You Behind’ which is a song directed at his daughters and tries to give them hope as he leaves the broken family. The sheer unguarded nature of this track and the raw emotion makes this a powerful slice of authenticity. There are not many songs where you can physically feel the pain of the storyteller, but this is one of them.

There is some fun on the album as well. Hellfire Baby Jane is a real slice of Americana with a sweet guitar riff opening. The resonator guitar is the most prominent instrument backing the vocals and adds a bit of fun into what is a pretty serious collection of songs. 'The weekend' is a funny interlude, about what can happen, when you lose control and lose your phone! there is humour through the underlying melancholy, 'Told my best joke and no one laughed', I can relate to that, it happens on a daily basis! It ends with an exasperated search for his phone, which is even funnier when he finds it in his pocket. let's face it we have all been there!

'Lonely Nights' has a piano as the main instrument, but this is supported with a superb slide guitar. It oozes with melancholy, but then builds as Chris obviously prepares for a gig. As with every performer, the show must go on. 'I'm gonna do my thing, I'm gonna play a little song for you.'

The Americana and Folk is rested for 'Criminal Mind' where Stills rocks it out, as he does on 'Blame Game'. This is a driving Rock track in which Stills directs his anger to the negative elements of American society and the administration, that is encouraging the division. The title track follows, and 'Don't Be Afraid', is oppressive, and multi-layered. It is another one of the stand out tracks on this album, as it just coveys the fear of the future so well.

'Don't Be Afraid' is a rich piece of work in which each song is distinctly different. It has Americana throughout which you would expect, but also has elements of Rock, and is pretty funky in areas, which directs it away from the easy listening category. Most of the subject matter is not easy listening as it deals with regret, fear and anger, with a smattering of humour. But for me, as a father the songs that Chris Stills has written for his daughters are the most poignant and powerful. The album sleeve may have a silhouette of the artist on it. but Chris Stills definitely has his heart on his sleeve.

Review - Tony Creek

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