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Americana folk rockers Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons released their sophomore album Old Believers last month under Readymade Records. Wisconsin natives Cory Chisel and Adriel Harris teamed up with producer Brendan Benson (of The Raconteurs) this time around. Benson’s hand in the album is made evident by the variety of pop, country and blues influences in Chisel’s folk-rock. As the album dips into all of those genres at one point or another, the record as a whole has a hometown eclectic feel. With instruments ranging from fiddles to an organ to banjos – there are many flavors featured from one track to the next.
In 2010, Chisel was named Artist of the Year at the Wisconsin Area Music Industry where the group’s song “Born Again” was voted Record of the Year. Old Believers has some stand out tracks that could definitely earn the group another accolade or two.
The album opens with Harris’ solo haunting vocals backed by a gentle guitar on “This Is How It Goes” – a track that ends far too quickly. “Everyone can see that it’s not built to last/and the city’s burning under/it’s running from the past/this is how it goes,” Harris sets the scene.
Next on “I’ve Been Accused”, Chisel comes in with a full band and settles into his folk-rock grove. Pleading, “just stay the night/nobody wants you to leave,” Chisel addresses the trials of abusive relationships and admitting mistakes. This track transitions nicely into the body of the album that settles into a toe-tap inducing vibe that shows a combination of influences from artists like Otis Redding, Tom Waits, and Bob Dylan.
Chisel’s vocals have been compared to John Lennon and Tom Petty which is perfectly showcased in the opening of “Please Tell Me”. A couple lines of an almost a cappella style start the track off. There is no doubt that this album was recorded and produced in Nashville, especially once this track takes off with deep, southern guitar riffs.
Throughout the album, Chisel takes opportunities to show different sides of his personality and his versatility as the album picks up the tempo with “Over Jordan”.
Chisel credits his first connection to the power of song to the music he heard in church growing up with his father as a Baptist minister. “I learned a lot about being a showman, and I learned a lot about music. Many of the hymns from church still are the most beautiful songs I know. I’m thankful for growing up where stories and the pursuit of happiness were on everybody’s mind,” Chisel mentions in his bio.
Harris described her songwriting relationship with Chisel to American Songwriter magazine as, “little space to create something in, and it’s a story that someone else is telling, and your job is to sort of… bring a color to the palette that completes the picture.”
Closing out the album, “Wood Drake” really illustrates that mentality as it ends with a solid two-minute instrumental jam session. Layers and layers of guitar, drums, flute, and most notably a cello get the blood pumping, leaving you wanting more. It would be a perfect ending to any live set.
Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons have landed a spot opening for Norah Jones this summer as well as opening for Murder By Death on their summer tour.