There's a lot of thinly veiled glory in these parts, what might be called legends on the hoof, people who seem too cool for school and yet here they are, hanging out like any other schlep in the neighborhood one day, rubbing elbows with the gods the next. It's like running into Batman at the 7-11: Hey, how about that Joker?
Christian Cuff, the musical man-monster of the midcoast, is one such, a singer/songwriter whose work is evocative of Tom Waits and Dave Matthews, without being derivative of anybody dead or alive. As a songwriter and performer, Cuff is larger than life, deeper by far than the mainstream, a source of quirky, vital lyricism and roiling, emotional darkness. He's also just this guy, see? Your neighborhood visionary, Dylan on the hearth, approachable and knowable though in fact headed for Big Things here shortly. So the time to see Christian Cuff in concert is now, while you can afford the tickets and don't have to worry about just where in this mighty-big city you're going to park your car.
Which we have done. And having done it, will do again.
Cuff Does Things Large; the world is invited to listen. I find his arranging vocabulary to be particularly rich, and I can see why he'd want to have a cello in the mix on a regular basis. There's a lot of gravitas in these songs, a lot of deeply reflective lyrics and plenty of air: Thinking people's music, with riffs to match.
A hell of a show. Catch it while you can.
Chalkboard is his version of taking you on an adventure. And he’s going to take you everywhere he’s ever been. And you’re going to like it from start to finish. I’m tired of hearing people tell me the art of the album is dead. Hit this from front to back and try to tell me that again. There are no singles to be had here. You need all of the songs. It would be like reading a mystery novel but only reading through certain chapters.
Now, there are few bands that can rope me in with their lyrical wordsmithing. Listen, I’m the first in line to be a lush for hook laden pop songs, but even though I’ve heard Umbrella over a thousand times, I still can’t remember any of the lyrics. Unless it’s about the part where Rihanna wants me under her umbrella.* Not this. Every lyric off Chalkboard has the weight of a thousand pounds behind it. Filled with vivid imagery mixed with metaphors reflecting on life’s highs and curveballs served up by a healthy dose of sultry vocals, Chalkboard already has me anticipating Christian’s next release. Until then: the melodic rhythm driven bass lines will woo you, the strings will sex you up, the drums will get you thumping limbs, and the vocals will sooth you. And that is just the half of it.
I think I just listened to Hobo Island about 30 straight times.