The Chase Walker Band,
Not Quite Legal
(Revved Up, 2016)

If Chase Walker asked me for advice -- and by sending this CD out for review, I believe he has -- I'd have plenty for him. Walker is looking for a career as a blues guitarist. In fact, he is trying to jumpstart his career for putting himself out there as a teenage phenom; he is 15 and his PR people are quick to point out that he has "shared the stage" with all the right people. So if I get a little blunt in the discussion, it's not just beating up a 15-year-old; no one wants that. It's advice for a kid who wants to see his name live in the blues firmament. Harsh maybe but meant kindly. I get the sense that this kid's got enough people in his camp who will tell him how great he is; what he needs is someone who will tell him the truth.

So here's the advice:

1: Don't be in a hurry. Just because everybody with a computer can make a record now does not mean that everybody should. Putting out an album before you're ready can be counterproductive. Chase, you're not ready. Put in another 10 years of study and hard work and you can probably find your own voice and build your own style. Right now, you've got all your blues cliches and standard riffs, but you're not able to make it yours yet. By putting out the CD, you're saying, "Here I am. This is me." What we hear is a 15-year-old kid still learning his music and musicianship.

2: You can't put together a great band by hiring your friends. Your bass player, the oldest member of the band at 17, has potential and might eventually develop into a solid member of a rhythm section. Your drummer? It's obvious that if he wasn't a friend, he wouldn't be in the band. Rather than drive the rhythm, he crushes it like a walnut. If you want to be a successful phenom, you have to make some hard decisions. Do you try to carry a kid who is holding you back or do you find someone who will push you over the finish line?

3: Learn to write. No matter how you develop, there's always going to be someone who is faster than you, cleaner than you and more inventive than you. That doesn't matter as long as you have good songs. Mediocre songs that sound like everybody else's are not going to cut it.

If you want a CD that people who come to your gigs can take home as a souvenir, Not Quite Legal might do, but if you are after something that will help you become the artist you clearly desire to be, this CD is too little, too soon.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

6 August 2016

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