HomeMusicChris St. John’s New Album “Fly Away”

    Chris St. John’s New Album “Fly Away”

    Guided by an exotic twang that speaks to the western soul in all country/folk crossovers, “Me and You” might be the most retro composition on the whole of Chris St. John’s new album Fly Away, but it’s also one of the most soulful. Our singer’s vocal is pristinely preserved between gilded strings and eloquent percussion nudging bittersweet harmonies forth, and much like the acoustic cut of the title track, the lyrics are made all the stronger through the melodic disposition of the arrangement.

    Everything in Fly Away is produced to draw us closer with warmth and simplistic melodicism as accessible as it is endearing, and from the ambitious sway of “I Still Love You” to the unassumingly epic “I Just Knew (Wedding Version),” there isn’t a spot of filler to skip over here. St. John takes a page from John Denver and James Taylor with the structure of this tracklist, but in songs like “My Sunrise” and “Walk Between the White Lines,” it’s clear that the stories he wants to tell are his and his alone. This is as intimate a record as I could ask for this summer, but not a piece that feels centered on the personality of its creator alone.

    The harmonies in “I Need a Horse,” “Disappear,” “I Just Knew,” and “Look For Me” immediately add capitalization to the words that St. John is singing to us, and I like that he’s going out of his way in this mix to get us as much melodic charm as possible. It never comes across as saccharine but instead quite personal, which is something I’ve been wanting more out of the singer/songwriter content I’ve been reviewing in the past few months. There’s no isolated tone to the lyrics in “Hold On” or “Me and You;” St. John gains nothing by keeping himself on an island with his verses, and he rightly stays more observational in style than he ever does self-contained. There’s a strength behind him with these string arrangements that is telling of what he could do with an even bigger band in the studio, but I can also appreciate the depth he’s able to present with little more than a few session players helping him to construct a foundation for Fly Away.

    There are a lot of people trying to break into the singer/songwriter genre right now because of its trending status in the American mainstream, but of the underground players that I have been paying closer attention to, I believe Chris St. John to be among the very best in the business. His new album has an accessible nature that could get a lot of country fans into the modern folk beat, and perhaps even vice versa, but the real story here is the melodic daggers that St. John is seemingly able to dispense at will. He’s got so much charisma at the microphone in this LP, and if Fly Away is just a preview of what he’s still got in the tank, his success will only get more significant.

    Trace Whittaker

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