Chris Catalena

Chris Catalena

Spaceflight Records, 2019

http://chriscatalena.tumblr.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/16/2020

If you get confused about what decade we're living in while listening to Chris Catalena's self-titled album, well, you wouldn't be the only one. On this debut, the troubadour channels the folk and country sounds of decades past, and he delivers them with plenty of beauty amid some grit in the melancholic storytelling.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Sleep Talk Inn” starts the listen with Catalena's old time approach guiding the bare Americana formula that's as breezy as it is timeless, before “Fool Fool Fool” follows with warm guitars and gentle percussion as the soothing vocals complement the throwback setting.

Other highlights from Side A include the more traditional country-influenced, harmonica-friendly “Little Thread,” and the soft but ragged execution of “Papa's On A Rolling Stone.”

Side B continues Catalena's unassuming and heartfelt formula, and includes the raw and eloquent “Sometimes,” as well as the wispy “Do You Pretend.” “Lil Old You” then turns the volume up a bit into rootsy rock meets classic rock introspection, while “Go To Heaven” finishes the listen with a fuller approach to his cautiously retro sensibilities.

Catalena hasn't had the easiest existence, and his life stories pour out here with honesty and forthrightness. Perhaps falling under the outlaw country umbrella, Catalena takes the tag literally with a past that had him in prison in his early 20s for selling LSD to an undercover cop. Upon getting out, he dove headfirst into psych-rock, although these days he's closer to alt-country on this debut.

With this extremely contemplative and genuine effort, the Texas born and raised and current Los Angeles musician is certainly rooted in country music, but there's a grittiness present as well as he channels the spirt of Bob Dylan, Jim James and Neil Young with his strong, emotive song craft.

If you're going to want a physical of Catalena's work, it's only on vinyl, but you won't catch me complaining about that.

Rating: B+

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