Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons: Death Won’t Send a Letter

RIYL: Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Greg Laswell

The latest contender for the role of heartland hero, Cory Chisel offers up a debut album that combines a bit of Nebraska-era Springsteen with a hint of tarnished roots rocker Steve Earle. Not surprisingly then, Death Won’t Send a Letter reflects a sound as dark as its title implies, a blend of turgid rhythms and moody, contemplative deliberation. Clearly, Chisel’s at his best when he’s conveying brooding, angst-driven efforts like “Born Again” and “Longer Time at Sea,” both of which provide prime opportunity for him to revel in an insurgent attitude. Still, Chisel’s troubled tomes aren’t ongoing throughout; the quirky rhythms that underscore “Angel of Mine” and “Curious Thing” find the band occasionally flirting with techno territory, although clearly that’s not their main turf.

In truth, Chisel’s main strength is in his material, which shifts sharply from the forlorn ballad “Tennessee” and the mellow, autumnal “Calm Down” to the pounding and ponderous “What Do You Need.” The band even tosses in a hint of U2-like melodrama via the stunningly anthemic “My Heart Will Be There.” Though still sorting out their direction, this first attempt finds the Wandering Sons getting a good start to their journey. (Black Seal 2009)

Cory Chisel MySpace page
Click to buy Death Won’t Send a Letter