Boston-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Chuck Melchin gathered up a few of his favorite players from Boston and around New England and over the course of a year, and in four different studios, recorded ten original songs that recall the music of classic alt. Country / Americana bands like the Jayhawks, Steve Earle and Uncle Tupelo. Ranging from full band rockers to stark acoustic ballads, these songs tell stories of loss, tragedy, human failure and redemption. Review by Americana-UK: A dead giveaway Hands up those outside of North America who know what a 'potlatch' is? Not many I'd wager. Fact is this record is something of a potlatch. The actual derivation of the word comes from a Native American custom of throwing a party and giving away or destroying your most valuable possessions in an ostentatious show of superior wealth. What The Bean Pickers Union do here is to treat us to a masterclass of Americana music, a perfect ten tracks long, each one an exemplar of the genre. And to share what they have produced with the rest of us is certainly a potlatch (even if you do have to buy the CD). In what has become something of a trend of late The Bean Pickers Union are in fact one guy (Chuck Melchin) and a bunch of mates. Melchin writes, produces, sings and plays guitar. The hired hands do drums, bass, piano and other guitary stuff (most notably Eric Lichter). What with most of the workload falling to one guy it's his 'voice', both metaphorical and literal, that comes to the fore. That voice is mostly reminiscent of Willy Vlautin and his mates with occasional flashes of Neil Young's mates and the odd hint of a bunch of mates down Laurel Canyon way. Thus ensues dark, growling melancholia, jaunty acousticisms, some picking and a strumming, some organ driven gothic and a bit of 'tortured artist with guitar'. What more does one need in their Americana?
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