What do you get when you mash Bob Dylan with Elvis, then drop that creation in Chicago? The answer is Chris Rawlins, whose new album Bring on the Rain was released in February of 2019. Rawlins is a classic student of folk, but his addition of jazzy finger-picking style and modern lyrics shows how Chicago put its bluesy twist on the music he makes. The vocals are vibrant and familiar with just a bit of twang to take the edge off. Bring on the Rain is wrapped up and bow-tied by Rawlin’s unique way with a guitar. His style makes the instrument sound like its singing alongside him. Folk is reimagined with nine tracks full of heart throbbing lyrics and gentle instrumentals.
The first track “Gravity or Something” just happens to be my personal favorite. His melodic choices are unexpected, but they stick with you after just a couple listens. The chorus is plucked straight from a top 50 hit, but Rawlins keeps it fresh and original. It sounds like a song from childhood, a pleasantly familiar nostalgia. “Cold Night” is another star from the album. Rawlins himself says it’s “definitely a love song.” He makes it personal, causing the audience to walk down memory lane and feel the pains of a cold night. The guitar is complex, but easy and gentle.
In traditional folk style, Rawlins is not just a musician, but a storyteller as well. The song (named after the album, or visa versa) “Bring on the Rain” reads like a poem: “Clouds are lifting / Like smoke that’s drifting / You said you could make a man out of me / Your teeth are showing / The full moon glowing / You said you had everything you need / Hey, but look at me I’ve even stopped my crying / Look at you sitting there so fine / Maybe you could bring on the rain some time.”
Bring on the Rain is technically sound, showing a musician with years of practice and training. More so, it is artistically adept -- the album is the work of a soulful creator who is only beginning a promising career. Rawlin’s first album is timeless, genre-bending and beautiful. No doubt Rawlin’s will strum the heartstrings of listeners, and become an industry name in no time.
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