Rock N Roll View
California native Courtney Chambers doesn’t deserve comparisons to Stevie Nicks or Rickie Lee Jones. It isn’t because she doesn’t boast a comparable talent level. Instead, such comparisons are a disservice because, from the first song onward on her latest release Tales of the Aftermath, Chambers proves that her songwriting voice belongs to her alone and whatever debts she owed to iconic past figures are long since paid. All artists, no matter the medium, are continually growing if they care about their craft. Chambers has arrived at a crucial point in her decade plus long musical career where she is truly her own person and has synthesized the lessons of the past with her own idiosyncratic slant.
Much of the album concerns itself with the vagaries of love. Chambers doesn’t deal with simplistic emotions or write neat and tidy love songs; instead, the price for holding someone close is invariably just as high as the rewards or at least fraught with implications that the typical pop song doesn’t dare consider. However, Chambers never sentimentalizes or overplays her hand vocally with this material. Tracks like “Fool in Me”, “The Bitter End”, and “Young Lovers”, among others, plumb depths that the typical pop songwriter frowns on and deal with specificity and suggestiveness in a fascinating way. There’s redemption here as well – tracks like “Forget the Gloom” and “Extraordinary Lives” are infused with a mildly bittersweet spirit, but are ultimately affirmative works testifying to the great American author William Faulkner’s dictum that between grief and nothing, he would take grief. Perhaps we face difficulties, but ultimately, the bracing thrill of living redeems many of our disappointments and regrets.
The latter track, “Extraordinary Lives”, is perhaps the album’s lyrical and musical highpoint. Driven by drummer Joey Galvan’s assertive and steady timekeeping, Chambers sinks her teeth deep into a lyric full of poetic suggestion and dazzling concrete storytelling. Her voice bubbles with recognizable inspiration, like on every song, but it ascends to another level here and delivers a defining performance. The performance, however, would be an incomplete minor masterpiece without the contributions of her ace collaborators, particularly second guitarist Sean Hoffman.
Eight of the album’s ten songs feature the same lineup and they bring an added gravitas to the work that tailors itself to Chambers’ voice. Tales of the Aftermath flirts with multiple sonic textures and genre shifts, but the heart of the music is essentially Americana with artsy twist. The blues forms a backbone for much of what happens instrumentally – the 4/4 beats, the reverb spiked guitar effects, and the minor chord excursions are all familiar sounds that Chambers revitalizes for her use.
Tales of the Aftermath is a wonderful album from start to finish and this fourth release likely ranks as the best of Chambers’ illustrious career. If Chambers has yet to achieve half the recognition of her heroes and peers, it isn’t due to lack of skill. Instead, she shows herself to be a careful artist who develops material slowly with an eye towards maximizing its potential. She realizes her considerable potential here and lays the groundwork for even brighter tomorrows.
9 out of 10 stars.
Rock N Roll View
Working within the tradition of icons like Rickie Lee Jones and Sheryl Crow, Courtney Chambers’ fourth album Tales of the Aftermath sounds like the moment when the pupil begins to pull away from the teachers. She has surrounded herself with an outstanding cast of collaborators for this effort, including producer and guitarist Sean Hoffman, but there isn’t a moment on this album when Tales of the Aftermath doesn’t feel like a strictly personal affair and profoundly cathartic for its creator. It is a dangerous game when listeners begin assuming that a songwriter’s work is strictly autobiographical, but Chambers certainly encourages us, by implication, to hear her in such a way. When taken in such a manner, she is clearly among the bravest of songwriters working today as her material often presents well-rounded scenarios firmly grounded in realities of the heart. Her multi-instrumental talents are showcased here and, beyond her often lyrical piano playing, her contributions on guitar with Hoffman are an important part of the album’s success.
The interplay between the two gets its first airing on the atmospheric “Fool in Me”. Disregarding the odd implied pun of the title, this is a serious look at romance gone wrong. While such songs are certainly common fodder in pop music, Chambers twists her treatment of the material in a highly individualistic way through the sheer dynamic range of her vocal and how well it plays off the twin guitars. “The Bitter End” is a strong, assertive rocker that might make some squirm, but she grabs the lyric by its lapels and delivers a rousing vocal. “Love and Music” is another rousing track, a poppy near-anthem with an enormous chorus. “Young Lovers” sees Chambers and the band slow things down again and delve headlong into a superb blues that simmers with equal parts yearning and jealousy. Perhaps the album’s best track, “Extraordinary Lives” soars thanks to the percussive duet between Chambers’ piano playing and drumming Joey Galvan’s powerful work on the kit. It’s likewise the album’s heftiest lyric and veers into storytelling virtues that few of the other songs embrace outright.
Chambers keeps things slow with the gorgeous piano-driven ballad “Heart of this Man”. While it’s arguably the most traditionally presented song on the album, her songwriting distinguishes it thanks to the unique lyrical point of view. “Wasting Time” revisits rock and roll territory for a bouncy, yet slightly dissonant, near folk rocker that sounds a little like late REM crossed with an early 90’s Seattle band. It’s a difficult sound to categorize, but the track is easily one of the album’s high points. The finale “Winter” brings things to a gradual ending, like a snowflake gliding to the ground, and feels full of shadows. There’s a certain acceptance in the lyric, but Chambers can’t resist a light note of dread when she refers to her willingness to continue burning a few more bridges in her life.
It’s moments like this that drive home what a considered and intelligent work she’s produced. This goes far beyond the first three albums in two important ways – she has expanded her musical vocabulary a great deal and her lyrics are showing a continued willingness to explore new ground and adopt different voices. Tales of the Aftermath is an important work solidifying Courtney Chambers’ position as one of the foremost indie songwriters and singers working today.
9 out of 10 stars
Purchase Link: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/courtneychambers
Indie Artists Alliance
After listening to this album a few times, a number of possible verdicts arise. There is an unquestionable consistency on Tales of the Aftermath, the fourth full length release from California native and respected singer/songwriter Courtney Chambers. Her work with producer and second guitarist Sean Hoffman establishes its sonic parameters early on and respects those borders from the first note to last. Moreover, Chambers’ songwriting, already strong, has continued to improve since her debut release in the early 2000’s, Imperfect Like Me. Much of the earnestness has disappeared and has, instead, been replaced with genuine intimacy and a growing poetic vision able to transmute the specifically personal into something universal and, therefore, much grander.
However, there’s a lack of variation that’s troubling at some moments. The insistence on using reverb in every song will be heard by some as an indelible sonic signature while others will hear it as an arbitrary affectation. Certainly songs like the opener “Fool in Me” benefit greatly from such touches. There’s a Mississippi Delta ambiance that this California girl strikes on a track like this that should quickly convince any remaining non-believers or novices that she is the real deal. She wisely assembles a superb band for the album, starring Hoffman on second guitar, and Joey Galvan adds a tremendous amount with his powerhouse drumming on a number of songs. “Extraordinary Lives” has a thrilling pulse thanks to his work on the skins and “Wasting Time” equally benefits from his spirited and dependable timekeeping. The latter track is one of the album’s best thanks to its completely believable but surprising jaunt into lightly atonal, but hard-nosed folk rock. Hoffman’s guitar effects likewise strengthen the bluesy crawl of “Young Lovers” and compliments Chambers’ yearning vocal well.
The album seesaws between quasi-torch song tempos and upbeat shuffles without exploring much else. While it does deliver the groove-inspired album that press materials promise, listeners will likely feel a vague sense of disappointment at the lack of variety. It isn’t because what she gives us isn’t compelling – it is. The band, likewise, are clearly a collection of top shelf players. However, the feeling that she could be giving us so much more is very real. Tales of the Aftermath’s strongest songs stand above this. The aforementioned tracks, along with “The Bitter End”, give listeners more evidence than others of Chambers’ true potential. It is quite rare, twenty years ago or today, to discover female singers so adept at softer material and outright rock and roll. “The Bitter End” and the aforementioned “Wasting Time” are outstanding rock songs bristling with attitude and skill.
Despite any minor quibbles, Tales of the Aftermath represents another milestone in Courtney Chambers’ continued evolution as an artist. There isn’t any filler on the new release and each track will undoubtedly have, at least, a small contingent of admirers. This is an artist whose love for music is beyond question and whose focus only seems to sharpen with time.
8 out of 10 stars.
Indie Artists Alliance
In her decade plus playing in the competitive California music scene, Courtney Chambers has established herself as one of the leading talents in an impressive field. Her one of a kind voice, capable of straddling countless styles without apparent weakness, musical chops, and growing powers as a lyricist have earned her plum spots at top venues and a growing cadre of fans and admirers. These accolades and more to come are bestowed on her because, as her latest release Tales of the Aftermath makes clear, she is a singular talent. However, the new release shows her continued willingness to work with sympathetic and equally talented collaborators like Sean Hoffman. These outside artistic forces never chip away at Chambers’ individuality but, instead, enhance her presentation and introduce their own influences into the mix. The result is a heady brew with many flavors.
The predominant flavor, on many of the album’s songs, is a dark amber whiskey bite. On few tracks is that more pronounced than the opener “Fool in Me”, a groove heavy swamp blues that unfolds slowly and gives Chambers room to vocally stretch. She inhabits every corner of the song with her presence and, like the best singers do, shapes her voice around the instruments rather than attempting to sing over them. “The Bitter End” boasts the same blues growl at its base, but the uptempo beat and airy guitar flourishes are touches pulled straight from a rock and roll playbook. The lyrical content takes a darker turn than most of the songs on this album, but there’s a streak of defiance laced through the words that Chambers ‘ vocal clearly invokes. “Love and Music” is pure pop rock with a big chorus and deliberate pacing. The quasi-march tempo builds great tension but what seals the deal is Chambers’ gradually building vocal. Her vocal talent is tested like nowhere else on the stunning “Extraordinary Lives”, but the victory isn’t Chambers’ alone. Joey Galvan makes his mark with a wonderfully inspired drumming clinic that seems to invigorate everything around him.
“Wasting Time” is one of the album’s most convincing forays into rock with its cockeyed chords, fuzzed out effects, and the high energy riffing of Chambers and second guitarist Hoffman. Chambers leans hard on the song and makes it work for her with a saucy, entertaining vocal that reinforces she’s just as much home with the slower ballad as she is edgier material. “Rush In” shifts midway through from an intimate acoustic piece into a full on pop rock banger, but close listening to the lyrical content shows another song quaking with the intimacy so common to the album’s songs. The ending number “Winter” brings Tales of the Aftermath to a gentle, pensive close, but even here Chambers can’t resist shading the peaceful finale with hints of difficulties still clinging to her life.
Autobiographical or not, Tales of the Aftermath is the work of a writer who understands that staring deeply into one’s self is an essential experience for us all. There is immense bravery here and no one, not even Chambers’ narrators, escapes blame. The musical virtues of the album are legion and accentuated by a wonderful vocalist working at her prime.
9 out of 10 stars.
Skope Magazine Review
Tales of the Aftermath opens with “Fool in Me”, a deliberately paced minimalist rocker with slapback guitars and a raw, visceral sound placing the band seemingly right in front of you. Light touches of reverb and ghostly organ drape the track in a soft, swampy atmosphere and even the dearth of changes or crescendos in the track doesn’t work against it thanks to the charged mood produced by the music. “The Bitter End” begins with a dry guitar stutter supported by ghostly keyboard color. While some listeners might squirm at her blanket denunciation of men, the lyrics are more nuanced than that and one can’t argue that Chambers is merely writing from personal experience. The brisk tempo and lean economy of the song give it tremendous appeal.
Minimalism is an obvious stylistic focus for Chambers and the approach reaps rewards on “Love and Music”. It’s another rueful reflection on the vagaries of romantic love offering up a simple, eloquently expressed comparison. The deliberate tempo ramps up nicely for a memorable chorus. “Forget the Gloom” foregoes the occasionally boisterous guitars of the opening tracks for a low-fi acoustic guitar shuffle lightly peppered with an assortment of electric guitar fills. The bluesy strains in Chambers’ voice emerge quite strongly here, but the tempo shifts are the song’s true highlight and carry the song perilously close to pure pop bliss. Chambers brings the piano to the fore on “Extraordinary Lives”, but it’s the marriage of the ivories and a lively rhythm section that distinguishes the track. The recording maintains the same sonic intimacy throughout and “Extraordinary Lives” is perhaps the album’s best example of production enhancing already strong material.
The piano remains center stage for “Heart of this Man”, but it takes a far more lyrical turn here than elsewhere. The smoky ambiance of Chambers’ voice is ideal for invoking her themes of disappointment, heartache, and regret. She sounds like Tori Amos with more weight and gravitas in her voice. Tales of the Aftermath concludes with another acoustic based track, “Winter”. It’s an appropriately elegiac note for the album to finish on and glistens with warmth and sincerity.
Tales of the Aftermath is a considered and deeply felt work with a variety of interesting musical textures and a thoughtful singer anchoring it all with her sensitive interpretative powers. Over the course of ten songs, Chambers weaves a delicate mood without ever lapsing into sentimentality or pandering to her target audience.
Indie Music Reviews
Courtney Chambers – Tales of the Aftermath
Courtney Chambers’ fourth album, Tales of the Aftermath, moves the posts for her in a significant way. While her traditional concern as a songwriter, matters of the heart, remains in full view, the new album’s ten songs take a nuanced, genre-hopping musical approach and exhibit a sharp writer working at or near the peak of her powers. Each of the songs contains a handful of dramatic lines that, when Chambers delivers them with her customary soulful commitment, will knock the wind out of many listeners for a second. Despite the deliberate tempos and careful orchestration, Tales of the Aftermath is never a staid effort. The production gives it a live intimacy without ever being overbearing and balances its focus well between the multiple instruments. The guitars and Chambers’ gently insistent voice are captured particularly well.
“Fool in Me” opens the album on a note of jaded love. The band creates a sultry groove for Chambers to indulge her gifts for blue note jazz vocals. She knows how to use her voice well and inhabits every moment of the track from the moment she enters, but she does an equally impressive job of simply accompanying the melody and singing with the band. “Love and Music” leaves a mark as one of the album’s sturdiest cuts, a fully-rounded composition driven by considerable musical merit and an eminently relatable concept. Chambers should be applauded for her apparently effortless balance between appealing pop textures and deep songwriting skill; typically, artists will pander for commercial attention and there isn’t a second in “Love and Music” that feels calculated or insincere.
“Extraordinary Lives” benefits from an unique musical juxtaposition. While piano lines streak across the song’s surface and flutter in the mix, the uptempo pace and authoritative drumming keep the track percolating with energy. Chambers’ vocal responds to this dynamic combination with memorable phrasing and insightful lyrics. “Wasting Time” takes a surprising plunge into dissonant alt-rock peppered with interesting percussion and jangling, fuzzed-out guitars. There’s a number of subtle tempo shifts highlighting the band’s high skill, but there never gratuitous additions. Instead, they further spice up an already turbulent track. The album’s penultimate song, “Rush In”, returns listeners to more familiar territory, but Chambers still has some surprises in store. The song opens as a spare, sensitive acoustic piece and, while it never loses the depth present in all Chambers songs, the song’s midway point has the song expanding into a tastefully done, pop mini-symphony. It’s one of the album’s most cinematic moments.
The final song “Winter” slows things down and dives even deeper within. The presentation and performance imply that this is Chambers at her most vulnerable, exposed from behind the wall of sound defining much of the album, and revealing herself to us entirely. If it isn’t true, she deserves even greater praise. Any final verdict on this album’s merits would be remiss to not adopt that position – even if every note on this album were thought out and carefully arranged for maximum commercial appeal, this reviewer wouldn’t be able to criticize it much. Courtney Chambers is an accomplished songwriter of rare skill and Tales of the Aftermath, rather than being pure pop product, glistens and glows with the earnestness and artistic control of its creator and her collaborators.
Purchase Link: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/courtneychambers
9 out of 10 stars.
Da Hip Hop Place
Courtney Chambers – Tales of the Aftermath
Courtney Chambers is far from the stereotypical blonde haired California girl. This native of the Coachella Valley has released a stunning fourth album, Tales of the Aftermath, which marries impressive musical versatility with a poetic sensibility and smoky, impassioned vocals. The stylistic shifts move from a blues foundation into areas as diverse as neo-classical ballads, jangly folk rock experiments, and spare acoustic pieces. Chambers is a multi-instrumentalist, manning both piano and guitar on this release, but it isn’t a perfunctory role. Her playing, particularly on piano, is an important thread in the album’s sonic tapestry. Producer and second guitarist Sean Hoffman, known for his work with the American Music Club among many other projects, creates an evocative virtual stage for Chambers, himself, and the other players to occupy. A bevy of superb atmospheric qualities drive many of the songs, but listeners are fortunate that Chambers and Hoffman alike possess the artistic discernment to never overindulge and drive the songs into heavy-handed melodrama. There is a delicate, yet exquisite, balance between the assorted instruments that helps strength Tales of the Aftermath into a cohesive listening experience.
We hear her savage intelligence and deep soul shining through on cuts like “The Bitter End”. She unflinchingly explores the darker sides of love and relationships while maintaining an indomitable spirit determined to learn from life’s lessons. This emerges from her highly emotive and precise phrasing that brings every line to vivid life. “Love and Music” surveys a softer side of her personality, but there’s tremendous heartache in this deceptively simple rumination weighing the rewards of art over love. “Forget the Gloom” has a different slant than the earliest songs thanks to its focus moving outside of Chambers’ internal world and her compassion when writing about those she cares for is notable and never clichéd. The music’s easy going shuffle beat and her slinky, energetic vocal are an excellent fit.
Some might argue that the widescreen piano ballad “Heart of this Man” is a bit predictable, but it’s a shallow judgment. Chambers, like all artists, will sometimes mine familiar musical and lyrical territory, but in the case of the latter, “Heart of this Man” deserves praise for its unique twist on a familiar formula. Chambers writes from the point of view of a woman disappointing a perhaps suitable man thanks to her own fears about letting him into her life. It’s a disarming and highly effective piece. The following song “Wasting Time” re-introduces the twin guitar attack of Chambers and Hoffman slashing out jarring, off-kilter riffs and chords on the album’s real sleeper track. There’s a light fatalism here that earlier songs lack and it gives the song a much sharper edge. She wraps Tales of the Aftermath up with a bit more of that subtle fatalism on “Winter”, an acoustic based track that achieves its effects through accumulation. Initially, the song might strike some as a bit of a throwaway, less ambitious, but further listens will reveal another chiseled and unquestioningly sincere gem.
This is an album to remember. Chambers is far more than merely another variation on the “female singer/songwriter” brand and revels in her growing ability to work as a stylistic chameleon of sorts. Nothing is off limits in a Courtney Chambers song if it makes sense. This is a fearless work beating with fierce independence and an eye towards posterity. Few albums hold up under repeated listens and fewer still grow in stature. Consider this among the latter.
9 out of 10 stars.
Courtney Chambers – Tales of the Aftermath
One might think, often a brief examination of Courtney Chambers’ career and before hearing her for the first time, that she hasn’t perhaps put herself “out there” enough to earn widespread mainstream success. Her latest album, Tales of the Aftermath, represents only her fourth album in 10+ years. Listening to one or two of the songs on the album will, however, quickly convince any of the aforementioned doubters that Chambers might be many things, but slapdash and poorly considered isn’t one. The new album’s ten tracks have few discernible flaws in their construction – every passage resolves itself with satisfying results, lyrical concepts sound completely worked out rather than half-baked and/or rushed, and the running order has a dramatic flow that seems dictated by the material’s character rather than arbitrary considerations. The album’s production is, likewise, quite natural sounding, but it’s equally apparent that great care has been shown to present these songs in the best possible sonic light.
“Fool in Me” begins the album with a strong example of this approach at, or near, its zenith. Chambers’ songs are atmospheric without ever belaboring the point and while this must certainly point to the skills of her musical collaborators, it’s even clearer that Chambers is among the rare performers with genuine songwriting vision. Whether such vision arrives piecemeal or springs full born from her forehead, this review can’t say, but it inhabits every note of the song. “The Bitter End” will, indeed, make some listeners shift uncomfortably in their seats when they give it an attentive listener, but Chambers tempers the lyrics with her impressive phrasing and another strong band performance. “Young Lovers” is another atmospheric ride replete with blurry, reverb skewed guitar fills and a slinky, if not outright sultry, Chambers vocal.
“Extraordinary Lives” surges with inspiring vitality thanks to powerhouse drums that never lets up from the first snare snap on. The piano playing sparkles as well, but it’s Chambers’ lyrical skill that leaps to the fore here with a well-written and thoughtful lyric. Piano and vocal carry much of “Heart of this Man”, but there are other light instrumental touches adding color to this track. The spotlight fixes on Chambers’ breathy, evocative vocal and an accompanying performance on the keys that gives the song a memorable counterpoint. The jaunty guitar work out on “Wasting Time” takes a welcome detour into slightly twisted folk-rock, but Chambers rises to the challenge with a gritty performance. “Winter” ends the album on a gray, wistful note, but the ultimate mood is one of survival despite the song’s desolate presentation and feel.
Tales of the Aftermath is a comprehensive work that revels in stylistic shifts and assorted points of view. Courtney Chambers captures attention for her songwriting, but her vocal talents are equally considerable and she’s the unquestioned musical star of this release. Her deceptively wide range is capable of hard-nosed realism, tenderness, and seducing the listener – in some cases, all within the same song. Few albums in 2015 are as satisfying as this one and, as a new fan, this reviewer can only hope we don’t have to wait long for another
9 out of 10 stars.
Americana - UK
To say West Coast singer-songwriter Courtney Chambers took her time getting 'Tales Of The Aftermath' to the public is a huge understatement, the original tracks and songs for the album started 8 years ago. Much has happened since then and a good deal of living in the process, the first set of tunes lost due to a computer crash. According to Chambers this was a blessing. The songs did not feel right, in fact she hated them and saw them as her bastard children. However, on going back to the songs, rewriting some and placing a different spin on them she now sees her 4th studio album as her best set of work and the songs to be most precious. Produced and mixed by Sean Hoffman (American Music Club, Bedroom Walls) it has Chambers push the envelope as her indie rock pop style is tempered with hints of soul and blues. On “Heart Of This Man,” a stripped down affair featuring piano and some of Chambers' most skilful vocals, she becomes soft and sultry without losing her soul. “Winter” has all the credentials to make it best song of the album. Steeped in deft electric guitar her sweet sensitive vocals produce some of the most treasured moments of the record. The impact of both couldn't be finer or better worked.
Drawing on everything she has in her repertoire Chambers works her magic on “Love And Music”; not least her forceful electric lead guitar playing. While she does share some of the guitar duties with Hoffman (rhythm, lead, bass guitar, keys and percussion) Chambers is a fine player in her own right (Belinda Carlisle certainly thinks so through having her guest on her latest album). Apart from Chambers lead and rhythm guitar work, like Hoffman she too plays keyboards and piano albeit the keyboard entries by them is something I could well have done without. “Young Lovers” is a moody affair, soulful and leaning towards jazz during its slow piano teasing opening and beyond as Chambers becomes melancholy and deliberate speaking of 'listening to the sound of young lovers.' It is the kind of song to grow on you and take on a life of its own as a live performance. “Extraordinary Lives” is the most head-on pop composition on the record and one I love. Joe Galvan on drums is superb, likewise the lead guitar. The album needs more of the energy displayed both here and on “Wasting Time.” Her music, given greater freedom, offers the listener an opportunity to fully engage with her music.
MUSIC STREET JOURNAL REVIEW
|Courtney Chambers |
Tales of the Aftermath
Review by G. W. Hill
The range here is from hard rock to modern pop, shoegaze and more. This is an effective set start to finish. It also has enough variety to keep from getting stale or feeling redundant.
|Track by Track Review|
|Fool in Me |
Bluesy hard rock with some country in the mix, this is classy stuff. It’s a slow moving and compelling piece of music. This is both classic and modern.
|The Bitter End |
The central change here is that the classic elements seem gone. This is a modern rocker that is fairly standard, but also effective.
|Love and Music |
Here’s another more like modern pop rock. It has some lusher layers of sound. It’s very much the kind of thing that’s at home on modern radio these days.
|Forget the Gloom |
Alternative rock, country and roots music merge on this number. It’s still a modern pop rock piece, but it’s influences are a lot more classic.
|Young Lovers |
There’s a bit of a psychedelic, shoegaze kind of sound here, merged with Americana and more. It has a bluesy edge to it, though. There is really a dreamy quality to this song.
|Extraordinary Lives |
The piano based melody that opens this makes me think of the Beatles a bit. From there, though, it works to more standard modern pop rock. There are some Beatles-like elements over the top of the arrangement at times, though.
|Heart of This Man |
Piano starts this one, too. The vocals come in over that backdrop, as this is a balladic number. It’s a pretty and poignant piece of music. Other instrumentation does join later to fill out the arrangement, but this remains fairly mellow and slow moving.
|Wasting Time |
Here’s another more typical piece. This is an energized pop rocker that’s pretty strong. It’s just not all that special or different.
|Rush In |
An acoustic based, mellower, song, this makes me think of the Beatles quite a bit. There is a country edge to the vocals, though. Other layers of sound fill out the arrangement later. Then it gets into more typical territory as it moves forward.
Intricate acoustic guitar serves as the backdrop for the vocals here. Some electric guitar brings layers of sound and some variety later, but the acoustic guitar motif remains the basic concept. There are some back-tracked things at points on this cut, too. This never rises up to the level of rocker, though. Instead it remains mellow and intriguing. It’s actually one of the more “different” and effective pieces on show here.
PALACE OF ROCK REVIEW
There is always a moment for some soft rock in life, it´s a nice break from all the heavy stuff I usually listen to or every single electro pop song that has invaded the music scene.
"Tales of the aftermath" is the first album of new music in 8 years from Courtney Chambers, it´s also her 4th album so she´s hardly a newcomer.
Courtney´s songs are featured in the TV series "The L Word" and the film "Callous", she is also a member of the Heart tribute band Dog N Butterfly where she payes homage to Nancy Wilson.
I think of Courtney´s original music as smooth but guitar driven adult rock, imagine Sheryl Crow meets Stevie Nicks and we´re close to the sound of "Tales of the aftermath".
Overall a nice album.
Highlights : "Wasting time", "Extraordinary lives".
Modern Rock Review
Courtney Chambers brings music to a place many artists grasp towards but can’t quite reach. Her fourth album, Tales of the Aftermath, bluntly and artfully expresses sentiments that most everyone can relate to. It is masterful in its simplicity but poetic in its deliverance. Chambers’ s vocals are the core of the songs, dressed with music but not drenched in it. That’s not to say that the music is not good, in fact it is quite impressive. But the songs on this album would be just as potent without the top notch arrangement and production.
Starting in 2001, Chambers released three albums on her independent label, Royal Daughter Records, with her debut, Imperfect Like Me, released that year. She followed that stripped-down release with the full band arrangement of 2004’s Higher Places, an album which Chambers self-produced. She first worked with producer and multi-instrumentalist Sean Hoffman on the studio record, Bigger and Brighter, which received wide critical acclaim upon its release.
Chambers began writing and recording demos of new material shortly after the 2007 release of Bigger and Brighter but wasn’t particularly fond of all the songs. She says that she was “having severe writer’s block and trying to force the music out”. Much of the early recordings were lost in a computer crash, which in retrospect turned out to be a fortuitous occurrence as it gave the material (and subsequent new songs) time to emerge and fully develop. After a multi-year hiatus, Chambers and Hoffman returned to the studio and with fresh ears and a reinvigorated approach resulting in a record far exceeding their expectations.
Each of the ten tracks on, Tales of the Aftermath, were composed by Chambers with some contributions from Hoffman. The opening, “Fool In Me”, sets the theme of the album with intense, bluesy vocals belting out lyrics about getting over a past love to a steady, plodding beat by drummer George Sluppick. It conveys an overall feeling of going through the motions while you’re trying to wrap your head around what is going on;
“The Bitter End”, has a more modern vibe with deadened guitar notes and a slight synth in the atmospheric background. The rich but minimalist production provides emphasis on the vocal and the emotionally charged lyrics about overcoming an abusive situation. The heavy guitars return for the intro of the melodic and moody “Love And Music”. The song blossoms into an ode about the appeal of music over human relationships, as the protagonist concludes that music provides a more reliable emotional connection. “Forget The Gloom” starts with strummed acoustic and steady, snare-heavy drums with some wild, phase-effected guitar. After the first verse, it breaks into a more upbeat track with many more diverse sonic treats including slight piano and slide bass. The lyrics are about coping with a sense of abandonment but contain a quirky brightness in the melody and rhythm.
“Young Lovers”, takes yet another stylistic turn, almost sounding like early nineties grunge in its slow slosh through the verses with lyrics about a woman who is clearly in the wrong relationship. “Extraordinary Lives”, is one of the most interesting and rewarding songs on the album, filled with richly textured mixes and a heavy drum presence by Joey Galvan. Chambers wrote this one for her daughter, Madeline, and admits that she wept as she wrote it;
“Heart Of This Man”, is a breathy piano ballad which, at times, seems like it is about to emerge to a larger arrangement but craftily remains simple and stripped down with a beautiful, soulful vocal. In contrast, “Wasting Time”, is a loose and upbeat song with lyrics about having fun without worrying about consequences or emotions getting in the way. “Rush In”, is built on an interesting, descending acoustic riff with several dynamic sections, led by the excited lead guitar of Hoffman and fantastic melodies. Chambers says this was her song to the Universe and opening to it’s joy, possibility and color. The closing track, “Winter”, provides the perfect ending to this heart wrenching yet inspirational collection of songs. Musically, this finger-picked acoustic ballad features some more reserved effects, most especially the slight cascade of several guitar effects, forwards and backwards, in all of about 5 seconds. Thematically this is stark and cold, not a bitter cold but a refreshing cold, with lyrics about enduring a dark period only to emerge on the other side as a stronger person;
Throughout Tales of the Aftermath, Courtney’s vocals are center stage but she never gives in to the the vocal exercises of trying to hit every note, instead finding the perfect vocal expression suitable for each theme. Currently, Chambers is performing and promoting the album as both a solo acoustic act and with a full band arrangement. She will be releasing a video for, “Extraordinary Lives”, in December 2015, with plans to record some live material in 2016.
CV WEEKLY REVIEW
In this writer's opinion her best attribute is her voice; strong, soft, sultry, powerful, and sweet. She could probably sing you the phone book (remember such things), and you would listen. It would be easy to pick any number of familiar female vocalists and compare her to them. And that is the best part. She doesn't remind you of any one person. Throughout the album she reminds you of many. As if she has a chameleon like quality that adapts appropriately for each song, while at the same time leaving her own stamp on each song that lets you identify her voice.
Tales of the Aftermath contains quite a few standout tracks. The opener "Fool In Me" is equal bits blues and soul, stripped down with a fantastic, almost spoken word bridge. It is followed by the albums' most rocking track "Bitter End". A song that addresses the important issue of someone being in an abusive relationship. The chorus faces this head on, stating: "I'm a bit angry/ And I'm gonna be hard and now I know/ I'm not giving up my soul and I'll defend it/ Till the bitter end." It's an anthem for anyone, female or male, to defend who they are, while faced with someone that demands them to be something or someone else other than who they are. There are several moments it seems the song will explode, yet Chambers pulls back the reins, letting the subtly have more of an impact.
"Love and Music" contains some of the most poignant lyrics on the record, as Chambers weighs being in love with a person versus being in love with the music. Ultimately concluding - correctly - that the songs she makes will never hurt her, while love from a human being will always include the risk of pain. Of all the tracks on the record, "Extroardinary Lives" is the most easily identifiable. It reminds the listener of a Fleetwood Mac song. This is not a negative at all. It is a great song. Complete in lyric and composition, leabing you wishing it was even longer.
"Wasting Time" starts off strong with a stomp/clap that gets you going. Perhaps it is the only track where the subtly that is beneficial to th rest of the record could have been thrown out. The beginning leaves you wishing that it would explode to a full-blown rocker. All in all, it is a very good record. Definitely worth your listen. But more than that, as someone who has seen her live, worth your time to see her perform live. And while you are there, pick up a copy of Tales of the Aftermath. You'll be glad you did.
"Chambers seems to be the type of singer that, when performing at open mic nights and coffee houses, makes people in the audience stop in mid-sentence and take notice of her wonderfully soulful voice. For such powerful a voice, Chambers avoids the trap of making that the sole focal point, and, instead, surrounds it with radio-friendly adult alternative music that, at times, borders on rural rock. Sean Hoffman’s slide guitar on “Any Way,” “Pencil and Paper,” and “Old Fashioned” reminds of Dave Chernis’s playing on the first two Damnwells records, and it’s just enough to push those songs from good to great...Personally, I’d like to see her dive deeper into the rural rock/alt.country sound as that genre lacks strong female singers, and Chambers would stick out (in a positive way) in that boy’s club."
-THE BIG TAKEOVER
"Bigger and Brighter...one of the best local releases of 2007" - Robert Kinsler - OC Register
"...her true appeal is in soulful live performances, where she shines with starry brilliance." - (OC Weekly)
"Bigger and Brighter is an absolutely great album. It is not just a CD with one good song, the entire album is full of great tracks."
- Orlando Suazo, Warrior Radio (WNYK 88.7fm Nyack, NY)
"Courted the chambers of my heart! What an alluring voice!" (Roctober Magazine)
"Courtney Chambers is not only one of the most gifted songwriters
I have ever met, she is an accomplished guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist
who also teaches music. From the first time I saw Courtney perform at an
open-mic in Hollywood, I knew she had something special... Whether she is
performing with her band, or solo, Courtney's songs will move you in
ways that words can't describe... She is truly a legend in her own time!"- Dave Strauss - Flat Cat Radio
TALES OF THE AFTERMATH
The American singer-songwriter Courtney Chambers is a musical centipede. Courtney performs solo and acoustically and with band. Besides her own thing, she was already on stage with the group Dog N Butterfly - The Ultimate Tribute to Heart, a tribute to guitarist Nancy Wilson. In 2010 she followed her other love country music and she starred as a singer / guitarist in the country band Jasmine Fields.
In 2001 Courtney founded her own indie label 'Royal Daughter Records', brings her debut album "Imperfect Like Me" from. This certainly throws a door open for her musical creativity. In the following years there are further "Higher Places" (2004), which she also collaborated with John Paul Trotter was the producer and "Bigger And Brighter" (2007), for which she collaborated with producer Sean Hoffman (American Music Club, Bedroom Walls ).
The fourth album in a row, which was released recently, called "Tales Of The Aftermath". It's an album with ten new and very varied tracks. It starts with the opener "Fool Me", a quiet, bluesy and soulful song, which hypnotically over you go. Then we have the most rocking song from the album "The Bitter End". Here the relationship is central and sounds Courtney, she vocally still has in store. In "Love And Music" is important songwriting and Country raises the question, who or what to choose: the love of a man or the love of music? "Young Lovers" is a quiet, smoky ballad, with many complaints and if you then to "Extraordinary Lives" listen, you probably also need to British blues band Fleetwood Mac thought. The timbre in Courtney's voice, poppy rhythm ... all for a Fleetwood Mac song, even the sister of Stevie Nicks. Courtney's drummer George Sluppick keep the rhythm tight "Wasting Time" losing it to no time, because after another haven "Rush In," there is now only "Winter", the valve, call it "the last but not least "track. Sean Hoffman on slide guitar helps us here to build the bridge, which is in a relationship often requires ...
Courtney Chambers is a chameleon, constantly trying to push her musical boundaries. Her strength to go beyond style borders, makes her extremely interesting new release. The result is "Tales Of The Aftermath", a well-written album, with thoughtful songs. For lovers of a singer-songwriter who transcends itself is Courtney Chambers.
"If you are looking for a singer-songwriter, that Transcend herself, then there is Courtney Chambers ..."