Christopher Rees – The Nashville Songs
(Review by Stephen Nottingham)
Christopher Rees’ seventh full-length album (Red Eye Music) sees him fully-immersed in all that’s best about Nashville. He wrote his previous albums alone, but The Nashville Songs (Red Eye Music) features songs co-written with Nashville-based songwriters (and performers) during annual visits to the ‘music city’ dating back to 2009. Four tracks were written with Rick Brantley (think Steve Earle), three with Mando Saenz (more reflective contributions with terrific hooks), and one each with Amy Speace, Vida Wakeman and Sandy Cherryholmes. Not to be outdone, Christopher Rees includes three entirely self-penned numbers, including one that has become my favourite from the album: ‘Call to Me’.
With 14 great songs in hand and on rough work-tapes, Christopher Rees brought them back to Wales and recorded them in his own fashion, singing and playing most of the instruments: electric and acoustic guitars, bass, piano and harmonica. Dan Tilbury plays drums throughout; pedal steel guitar virtuoso Aaron Goldstein shines on a trio of old-time country-style songs; and Welsh guitarists John Lewis provides some upbeat rockabilly twang to ‘Dance with Desire’. Elsewhere, Christopher Rees introduces a bit of a bluegrass vibe, with banjo and mandolin, such as on ‘Pull Me Out’ – co-written with a member of the acclaimed bluegrass group ‘Cherryholmes’.
As Christopher Rees sings in the opening track: “Sometimes you’ve got to gamble to find a life that fits.” This is certainly one gamble that has paid off. This album oozes confidence; the songs are the real deal and his singing has never been stronger. A career best.