Chuck Mead: Close To Home (Plowboy Records)

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Have you had that feeling that you were missing out on something only you didn’t know you were missing out until you got a taste of something better? That is how I feel about “Close To Home” by Chuck Mead. Where has this been all my life? I don’t even know where to start on this. Let’s start will the album cover.

This is very reminiscent of “Kind Of Blue” by Miles Davis. Just the cover, not the music. I was thinking about it, if someone, such as Chuck, is going to use elements of a classic album like “Kind Of Blue”, “Close To Home” better be pretty good. I just saw pretty good waving to me in the rear view mirror. This is better than pretty good – as close to perfection as possible. Getting back to the cover, it is absolutely striking in its minimalism and simplicity. Sometimes less is definitely more, a lot more.
So now let’s get to the music. If you are a fan of Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, and Chuck Berry, you will absolutely love Chuck Mead. But not only will you get an essence of the performers mentioned above, I hear some reggae and definitely some classic country. And the sound engineering and production is definitely 2019, not 1959. The writing is absolutely perfect for the music. The lyrics are honest and presented in a way that they resonate with the listener, long after the song has ended. I think that is what any true artist would want. Hey Chuck, “mission accomplished”.
Picking a few songs to feature is going to be difficult. There are many worthy adversaries, but unfortunately, I will have to leave them be. As I have stated in prior reviews, it’s like choosing between shrimp and lobster, everyone’s a winner.
Tap Into Your Misery is about as authentic as it gets. First of all, it deals with drinking away your sorrows, which is a must to sing about if you want to be considered real country. In other words, Chuck had street cred and, by the way, the music and singing is absolutely superb! As soon as this song started playing, I wished I was in a Texas dance hall and doin’ the boot scoot to this lovely number.
Chuck is no stranger to rockabilly, as is evidenced, by the foot stompin’ number, Daddy Worked The Pole. This song is just what I want. This is comfort food for the soul. The piano fills in Daddy Worked The Pole are absolutely spectacular. Brilliant, in fact. And  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the lead guitar solos that are also magnificent. 
If you like toe tapping music, then look no further than The Man Who Shook The World. This song is just a rocker right out of the gate. I am trying to figure out who that man is. Maybe it was Miles Davis? Jerry Lee Lewis? Or was it Dwayne Allman? This song sports two very Allman Brothers “southern rock” dual guitar solos. I couldn’t find out who the man is, but I will keep digging.
I could keep writing about “Close To Home” all day and all night. The message won’t change, though. This is a must have for anyone who claims to be a lover of “real” country music. Outlaw, classic, honky tonk, rockabilly: call it what you will but play it often. It deserves to be played loud and often.
Listen to Close To Home
Buy Close To Home

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