Hans Chew has popped up here from time to time, first with fellow traveler D. Charles Speer and then his name kept surfacing on albums from artists I’d held in high esteem – Jack Rose, Steve Gunn, Endless Boogie. Then he tucked into heading up his own crew. He’s been picking out his own brand of Americana over ever since, one that seems rougher, realer and a bit more country than the indie players who break out the acoustic and try to twang up their songs for a diversion from the norm. With the rhythm section from Rhyton behind him and compatriot Dave Cavallo adding a good dose of clearcut psych guitar, the album is leathered and worn with the kind of creases that current “outlaw” country isn’t coming close to.
Chew’s country is more of a feeling than an approach though. The heart of the record lies in a rock ‘n roll shallow grave, bleeding out for all the sinners after a bar brawl gone wrong. He’s got all the trappings of the local last call bar band, but with the kind of ingrained talent that would make you leave a beer hanging in stunned silence while the band tears into ’70s deep cuts from Let It Bleed, Greetings From L.A., and Zuma. There’s a certain grace to Open Sea, worn in like faded denim, comfortable and comforting all at once. It’s a reminder that sometimes a solid footing, even in territory that’s worn to threads, can feel just right.
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