Hey! Manchester presents Robert Chaney
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Tall and thin, as pale as a sheet of A4, guitarist/singer/songwriter Robert Chaney is not the kind of person you imagine hailing from sunny South Florida. But Florida is a place of contradictions. It is a land of technicolour sunsets and torrential storms. Of glittering skyscrapers and sun-rotted bungalows. Of Disney World and designer drugs. And so perhaps it is really no surprise that a person like Chaney can come from a place like Florida and make music – bitter, violent ballads played on a rickety acoustic guitar – that transcends any box into which it is placed.
As well as being inspired by early Dylan and Townes Van Zandt, Chaney projects his debutCracked Picture Frames through a dusty existential lens pointed at the American South with technique adapted from such inspirations as French film New Wavers, Truffaut, Godard andMelville as well as Southern Gothic authors like Cormac McCarthy and Carson McCullers.
Recorded live at London’s Regal Lane Studio with Ken Brake, the album’s aesthetic draws on the lo-fi minimalism of Chaney’s French-film heroes, achieving a cavernous depth with little more than guitar, vocals and reverb. Cracked Picture Frames lingers like a ghost-image burned into the phosphor of an old TV set and continues to haunt the listener even after the last notes have faded and the house lights have come up.
Chaney’s dynamic approach balances the fluidity of literature with the aperture of filmmaking and so loosens the shackles of traditional songwriting. The ‘only in Florida’ true-story violence of The Ballad of Edward and Lisa provides a harrowing example of this as it hauls us with frayed nerves through each tortured scene, transplanting the listener between starkly contrasting perspectives that include that of a news anchor reporting the horrific events. Chaney is able to propel the listener through time, space and personality with a certain dexterity that truly sets him apart from worthy contemporaries.
With successful support slots for the likes of Buffy Sainte-Marie and Barna Howard under his belt, Chaney has also chalked up a London taping for legendary session-hosts,Daytrotter, and will enjoy well deserved coverage in Q Magazine and Classic Rock. Other influences – from Folkways Records and Topic Records: Peggy Seeger, Paul Clayton, Paddy Tunney and Herta Marshall. From 20s/30s pre-war blues musicians: Skip James, Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Ma Rainey.
‘Entrancing authenticity, sublimely natural virtuosity… Magic’ – Stuart Moxham, Young Marble Giants
Support comes from Manchester duo We Were Strangers, who have already played alongside Tiny Ruins, Rozi Plain, De Montevert, Kathryn Williams, Lucy & The Caterpillar, Young War and Blue Rose Code. Their song I Believe has already chalked up over 15,000 plays.