On the Verge: Cory Chisel

During Cory Chisel’s WERS in-studio performance he says, “Some songs are about moving your body and what clothes you have on, and others are about storytelling.”  Cory Chisel and the assortment of artists who perform with him, the Wandering Sons, belong to the latter category.  Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons’ released their second album through Black Seal Music on June 26th, called Old Believers.  The album name was of great importance to Chisel.  He thinks of the term ‘old believers’ to be somewhere in between ‘old timers’ and ‘old souls,’ as someone who has been wizened by life and feels connected to the world and it’s people.  The album recorded in Nashville, and was produced by Brendan Benson, of the Raconteurs, a friend of Chisel.  Chisel noted that recording the album with Benson was great because they were allowed to be frustrated with each other but not let that affect their work, since they’re such good friends.  Chisel says, “Even if we are in the middle of a fight, he can get a text message about something stupid and be like ‘oh man, check this out.’ ”

The Wandering Sons refer to a lot of different people, or “a rotating cast, more of like a collective of people who sort of think the same way, like the same kind of music, and ultimately like to hang out with each other.”   Aside from Chisel, the only person who is a constantly traveling and performing as the Wandering Sons is Adriel Danae, who doesn’t leave his side in the studio or on the road.  She was in the WERS studio with Chisel, playing tambourine and singing backup vocals, while he was on acoustic guitar, and another Wandering Son was on electric.

They started with the first single off of Old Believers, “I’ve Been Accused.”  The song was recently named by Esquire in a list of “Songs a Man Should Listen To”  Chisel sings the song in his raspy, honest voice; a voice perfect for an album recorded in Nashville.  The instrumentation in the live WERS performance is fantastic, with electric guitar trickling over Chisel’s acoustic through the whole song.

Chisel and the two present Wandering Sons present next played “Times Won’t Change.”  The songs serves as a protest about current politics and inequality within the country.  Chisel sings, “Bullets from the West keep raining/elections but the leader ain’t changing/they wanna break the union man.”  It reflects the Occupy movement, and the video actually starts with footage from Occupy protests.  The song also alludes to Westerns a few times; “Six saddles four horsemen riding/Three thousand people dying.”  The references to Western type things may be a call for some Western, gunslinging, save-the-town-from-the-bad-guy justice.  Chisel says, “Western movies and sort of Civil War folk hymns are something that I’m really interested in, so we kind of riff off of those ideas sometimes.”

They closed out their performance with “I Never Meant to Love You but it’s Too Late Now,” a song that is certainly for lovers.  Adriel’s backup vocals compliment Chisel’s throughout the song as he sings about accepting the person you love and being grateful for their love.  He sings, “You’ll never be less than my guiding star/But we’ll never be more than the people we are.”

By Anthony Cantone Heinze

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