Subtitled The Sun Sessions, Chad Elliott and his band (Tommy Lewis, Travis McFarlane, Jim Van Dorn, Joseph Cafaro, Kevin Boehnke) combine roots rock, soul and blues in seamless fashion. Recorded by Sun Studio engineer Ples Hamilton the famed Memphis, TN venue it briefly draws on country music via the aptly titled Hills Of Tennessee. Excellent groove. Otherwise, the sound created by Elliott who wrote all but one song (a well worked cover of St. James Infirmary) is steeped in rich helpings of soul and blues. Red House act, fellow Iowa singer-songwriter, Greg Brown remarked on the album as it been low, loose, and full of juice. This album’s got a lot of life to it.
It is a fine band album, and with Elliott an accomplished and more tunesmith it has a lot going for it. Not least you have songs Cadillac Problems, Buick Times (that’s been likened to something a young Tom Waits might have done), and with it offering a genuine feel of the 1930s blues era it’s a killer. Whatever ones thoughts, it is a fabulous sound!
While not all tracks are up to the standard, or embedded, in the sound Elliott backed by piano, organ, keyboards, guitar, upright bass, percussion, harmonica and trumpet has excellent fare in top notch title-track Rest Heavy. The superbly written ballad that speaks of leaving New York City, and of how he woke up shy of shameless. Here is a prime example of his loose sound. One suitable for all hours of the day. Dirty River Catfish Blues due to to a large degree Elliott’s own harmonica it is a hard edged funky blues cut. Vying for best song on the record, is the evocative Embarcadero Street. This time he speaks of becoming a changed man. Elliott time worn lyrics are the kind that stay with the listener. I for one will be keen to see what he record he next makes.