Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons sound like a form of classic rock that will be very welcome to fans of the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and the Spring Standards. They’ve got brilliant male-female harmonies, a solid rhythm section, and if you listen carefully… pianos and/or organs that serve to bring together some of the tracks on the album quite nicely. This is not an album to miss!
There’s such a variety of influences in the sound of Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons. They have a bit of country, blues, and southern rock. Most of the tracks could fall into the broad category of country, but it more realistically is an easy rock album. The harmonies and chord structures lend themselves to both genres. To quote a familiar line from the film The Blues Brothers, “We’ve got both types, country AND western.”
“Never Meant to Love You” is a sad but cute song from the very beginning. It’s about a man who unintentionally fell in love. It’s a genre-bending tune that seems like the best of country and a past-time version of rock. “Never took myself for a family man… now I’m runnin’ to the bedroom every time I can.” It’s a sweet little love song that will probably make its way onto wedding playlists. Everybody now, “awwwww.”
The second track on the album “I’ve Been Accused” is probably the track of the album. It not only has a great tune and message, it serves as a microcosm to the rest of the album. “Just stay the night… nobody wants you to leave.” The chording over the bridge makes the track. It’s an awesome song that helps set the tone for the rest of the album.
“Please Tell Me” is also a love song, but it’s a bit more desperate. The lyrics seem to connote a sense of pleading for the girl. The song shifts tones at several points from soft to upbeat and excited. The pacing of the song is interesting. The harmonies in the middle seriously put us in the mind of Fleetwood Mac. The layered guitar picking and keys really made for a full sound.
Chisel’s “Laura” is a piano-driven song that shows off a totally different sound to the band. The verses are narrative and really good. The chorus begs for a couple’s reunification. It’s not a particularly deep lyric, but it is a beautiful piano ballad. We love the melody on the verses. It’s a sleepy and familiar, yet totally unique piece of music.
The guitar on “She Don’t Mind” is soothing in the best sense. “She don’t mind the way I am.” It’s a simple but beautiful lyric that is one of love’s sweetest realities. This, also a love song, highlight’s Chisel’s lead vocals and maintains a powerful but simple melody over strings. Again a divergence from the other tracks on the album, but it’s a delightful song.
The full band sound on “Times Won’t Change” is great. Equal parts country and blues, it’s a sound that will satisfy fans of the Drive-by Truckers. It’s got a great message, too. It’s far more philosophical than it seems at first blush. “I’ll agree to disagree when you can see the damage done.” It’s about social critique and making a better world. Rock on you Wandering Sons.
The bluesy “Over Jordan” is followed by a serious rock song “Wood Drake” that incorporates a great blend of guitars and vocal harmonies. “I need your soul so bad” is a yearning refrain, begging again for love. It seems the common thread in the album, aside from brilliant execution of a variety of styles, is that of love.
We’re hoping to get a chance to sit down with Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons at an upcoming show. We’d love to ask about the love theme of the album and the composition of such a wide variety of music. Until then, enjoy the music.