Broken down to its simplest terms, a good song should speak to a person at its most basic and primal center. Tell a story whether articulated in spoken form or backed by 18 instrument tracks. At his very core, Chuck Melchin of the Bean Pickers Union is a storyteller, a folk singer, and is just so damn good at it he really is in a playing field all his own. I love the last two records (2007’s Potlatch may be one of my favorite records of all time) he has put out, but chose to review his recent Demos and Covers release as I think it tells its own story about Melchin as a songwriter and what drives him to write and create.
The mass of the recording is driven by a well picked acoustic guitar and Chuck’s unimposing, yet affable vocal. Other instrumentation throughout the record displays Melchin’s ability to pick up, what seems like, any stringed instrument and play it in a gentle harmonious way that brings the narratives to another level. Each piece is very much fitting and is obviously placed there for a reason. The cover song choices also paint the portrait of where the musician’s inspiration truly comes from. Classic country-folk spanning to alt-country roots run deep within the songwriter’s veins, and it shows with his cover choices of Hank Williams and Drag the River. There is a very nice union of songwriter and music appreciator in this mix.
As a collective the 6 tracks work very together. There is a very natural reverb to the whole recording. Like it was done over an early morning cup of coffee, sitting in the breakfast nook overlooking the backyard, sun shining down in the time of year right between where spring turns into summer. It just has a very warm feeling to me, and despite Melchin’s occasional tendency to swing to the darker side of life, the recordings here really make me happy.
For those who enjoy well done home recordings, or something that’s just a little less polished than what you hear on the radio (you know, like how the person actually sounds when they make music?), this should be right up your alley…it certainly is right up mine!
Check out The Bean Picker’s Union demo’s and cover tunes online: http://thebeanpickersunion.bandcamp.com/
and buy their studio records while there, the music is well worth it!