CD Review: Thom Chacon

The singer-songwriter tackles real American characters in this strong set of songs
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On Thom Chacon's self-titled new CD, he delivers a gritty dose of Americana that betrays his age. Channeling his inner Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, Chacon sounds as if he's lived every one of these tales himself. Chacon even plays with Dylan's rhythm section, Tony Garnier and George Receli on the disc, which was cut live in an all-analog setting, which suits these songs well.

The CD opens with "Innocent Man," a story of a man wrongly convicted and placed on death row. Chacon gives a haunting vocal performance, transporting the listener to his prison cell. Chacon accompanies himself on guitar and harmonica in this powerful opener.

On "American Dream," Chacon debates whether the possessions one goes after are worth it when they will always remain in debt. In these tough economic times, the lyric, "I'm worth more dead cause baby I owe," resonates with too many listeners. The song's minor chords further underscore its bleak message.

"Chasing The Pain" finds Chacon singing to seemingly an ex lover who went for the bad boy and hard living instead of the man who treated her right. Chacon's character is the "good guy" of the song, yet he offers to kill the man who mistreated he as a form of twisted justice. In spite of the pain and suffering she causes, however, he still hoped she'd pull through in the end, demonstrating his love in this powerful, yet complex, song.

Chacon takes a strong country pop turn on "Ain't Gonna Take Us Alive." The song blends a jangly 12-string guitar courtesy of William Wittman over a melody that would make Springsteen proud. "Alcohol," is a lonely man's lament that his last friend is the bottle, having thrown everything else in his life away. The song has a hint of late 60s psychedelia to it and is a powerful reminder of the damage too much drinking can do.

The characters in Chacon's songs are everyday people, making them easy to relate to. Many listeners may know -- or even be -- some of the folks he speaks of. Chacon's knack for storytelling, along with his pop sense, makes for a potent combination on this self-titled release.