The Chris of life.
Michigan is one of the American states that keeps on churning out musical hit after musical hit and the best thing about it is that there are so many styles and varieties of styles emanating from the city. A brief look at the musical alumni from the city shows the names of many Motown legends, Iggy Pop, George Clinton, Madonna, Eminem and Jack White and many many more up to the current day with newish acts like Deadstring Brothers and Chris Bathgate arriving on the scene with a sound that doesn’t automatically sound as being from the area.
The term newish is used advisedly as although ‘A Cork Tale Wake’ is the UK debut for the artist, it is his third album in total and is a restrained yet cheerfully melodic record that could easily see Bathgate enter the realm of low-fi indie hero or folky troubadour. Opener ‘Serpentine’ doesn’t do much musically, the intermittent paino stabs creating a sparse background but the warm and lush tones of Bathgates vocals take the listener and the dream-like state continues throughout the record.
It's definitely the type of album to put on in the background and sink into and let the songs wash over you. At times the guitars pick up but theres no real snarling to life or vigorous emotion, perhaps with the exception ‘Restless’, it sets itself a sedate pace and impresses quietly throughout.
If you like your melodies and inventive singing, then this album is definitely the one for you with many vocal highlights peppered throughout. The cheerily upbeat intro of ‘Every Wall You Own’ subsides to a ringing country style guitar which then fades away to let the vocals ring out in an almost Glaswegian twee indie manner while ‘Madison House’ has a sound that seems so familiar but cant be placed at the moment. It may have been pinched from elsewhere but it feel that perhaps it just fits so right that you believes it must have been kicking out before this release. Of course, if we later find out that this bit has been stolen from elsewhere, R13 reserves the right to change our gushing praise of Mr. Bathgate.
It's still the time of year to be taking it easy and curling up in the warmth with a great album and a good drink and theres no reason why ‘A Cork Tale Wake’ shouldn’t be the album of choice and when you do have that drink, raise your glass to Michigan and say cheers for yet another shining example of the areas great work!