When listening to Christian Wray’s debut record Bomb, it seems impossible to believe sometimes that Wray is only nineteen years old. It’s even harder to believe that he only began writing music and playing guitar three years ago. This isn’t because Wray comes off like a guitar virtuoso, rather he is someone who knows how a guitar works, when it should be loud and quiet, when it should start and stop. Wray never overdoes it on Bomb, nor does he ever underdo it either.
Bomb the record opens with “Bomb” the song, which sounds like, with its ragtime player piano and short hard acoustic strums coupled with Wray’s cool croon, something coming out of an early phonograph. It would have been cute and kitschy had Wray let it go on that way for the entire song. He doesn’t however. In the middle it becomes a beautifully fleshed out new take on old country, yet wryly comes back to its static record crackle in the end. It doesn’t sound forced at all, simply a natural progression to the end of the song.
In striking contrast “You'll Never Make That Plane, Poindexter (Part Two)” is a slow play on the classic hard rock genre. The guitar and drums erupt like controlled bursts of fire, but here Wray, now using his half-bass vocals controls the song, his voice as much of an instrument as anything else. This voice shines beautifully and poetically on “Nocturne City,” a long slow acoustic ballad crossbreed of John Denver and Kris Kristofferson as it chronicles life in a small blue-collar town.
After the big ‘70s sounding political stomp rocker “Vaseline” Wray takes it down a to the sad solo acoustic tune “Something in a Name” which recalls the hushed tales of loneliness of Jeff Buckley at his miserable best.
It wouldn’t be fair to leave out Wray’s friend Ryan Chabon who produced and mixed Bomb at his home studio. Had Bomb been a simple home recording made on a four track or using garage band, the record wouldn’t be nearly as good. All together though Bomb is an excellent debut, and I’d wager that Christian Wray and company are on their way to a solid musical careers.
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