Chris Sabatino -Maybe Not This Time
Though the music scene today makes it increasingly difficult to find them (which in and of itself is a walking tall contradiction), there are still authentic singer/songwriters operating who work outside of the known channels and deliver heartfelt, emotion-bared music with soul and panache. Ohio bred country rocker Chris Sabatino is one of those artists. The five songs all told on his 4th EP, Maybe Not This Time ooze class, conviction and just a little bit of crass. Even when he’s laying down a beautiful number with blissful instrumentation, he always seems to find a semi-scathing vocal rant to offset his cool, collected compositions.
It’s a no brainer that “Rockstar” should be chosen as a single because it’s got the biggest, soaring, skyward vocal melodies on the album with a constitution that struts the fence of rock n’ roll and ol’ time country. Acoustic guitar is the primary tool utilized to open up the headspace, while Sabatino spits bitter lyrics about music label big wigs who give increasingly fewer chances to up and coming artists that tough it and play their hardest to “make it,” with sometimes diminishing returns or none at all. The rhythms are all workmanlike, complimentary of Chris’ smoke-burnt lead vocals and his hard-pluckin’ acoustics. His work side steps out of the shadows during the chorus for some power crooning and radio ready hooks that really help the material shine with ultraviolet rays. Any down on their luck rockers should be able to easily relate to this thoughtfully penned jam. “Garbage” distills Sabatino’s knack for outcast blues into a midnight acoustic clinic with lyrics that are anything but light n’ breezy. Here he riffs on lost love and being let down, with the cynicism giving way to the rich honey of his vocal talents while numerous acoustic guitars brush shoulders with light synth accompaniment, textbook rhythm work and great song-construction. If the two opening tracks had a decent amount of pep to them despite their oblique natures, “Escape” is a derelict blues jam that practically blocks out the sun with its instrumental restraint, buried vocals and droning guitar flourishes. It’s easily likened to an old blues song, but Sabatino does things his own way. At any time this creeping death crawl feels like it will plummet into the abyss, but manages to hold interest until its last beaten down note draws the curtain. “Here with me” is also cut from some pretty black pieces of cloth, though Chris’ acoustic guitar comes back into full focus (it was a supporting player on “Escape”), creating the perfect blend/balance of altering perspectives; one light and refreshing as a summer day, and the other hewn from the madness that comes from exploring the world around you in a 2 a.m. haze. It’s a very strong cut with some nicely flayed open leads baring soul and passion. Sabatino keeps his rockin’ and rollin’ varied and diverse throughout, so it’s only natural that the album caps off with “You’re the Only One,” a very straightforward classic rock song played at a deliberate mid-tempo clip. Something about it calls to mind some of Springsteen’s work or even Social Distortion, without directly borrowing or copying from either artist. It’s easily my pick for a must hear track from the EP, although no matter which number you’re on, you will be the recipient of some darn good music.
Sabatino has delivered a stellar collection of tunes on Maybe Not This Time.
As an EP, of course it leaves you wanting more and it would be nice to see him work with the straight work material a tad more, although his forays into blues and country are anything but a disappointment. For those looking for rock with an older soul at the heart of it, Chris Sabatino is your man! Check this release out.
8 out of 10 stars.