Chris Antonik review…April 1, 2017….

CHRIS ANTONIK

MONARCH

CHRIS ANTONIK MUSIC  CAM 001

I’D BURN IT ALL DOWN FOR YOU–YOU’RE KILLING MY LOVE–SLOW MOVING TRAIN–GOLD STAR–THE MONARCH AND THE WRECKING BALL–LOVE, BETTIKE-FORGIVENESS IS FREE–THE ART OF LETTING GO–ALL OUR DAYS–NEW RELIGION–HUNGRY GHOST–A SLIP IN THE RAIN–EVERYWHERE I GO

One of the funkiest, most soulful bluesmen that we’ve had the pleasure to hear recently hails not from Chicago, not from Detroit, and sho’ nuff not from the Delta.  Nope—Chris Antonik comes to us by way of Canada, and his latest album, “Monarch,” traces his musical views on everyday life, love, victory, and defeat in the form of twelve originals and one scintillating cover.  We try not to categorize, but, as you listen to Chris, his vocals sound like a cross between Delbert and Tab Benoit, and his guitar leanings evoke influences from all the legends.  Along with Chris on this set are Guenther Kapelle on bass, Jesse O’Brien on keys, and Chuck Keeping on drums.

These songs are predominantly built around easily-danceable grooves which belies much of the sometimes-serious subject matter.  Leading off is a song dedicated to the love Chris has for his two children, and, for everything he’s built up, “I’d Burn It All Down For You.”  A stone shot of modern blues is “Slow Moving Train,” which tries to encourage all of us to put down the phones for a while, before the fragility of life slips away.  Jesse breaks off a fine organ solo here, also.

Chris offers up some pensive, introspective looks at life and relationships, too, among these gems.  In “The Art Of Letting Go,” Chris finds the wisdom and truth to forgive and move on, after “peeling back the years of bad memories.”  And, one of the set’s most interesting cuts asks “would love be the answer” as a couple in a lifelong relationship reaches the end of their journey in “All Our Days.”  Jesse adds a moving touch with well-played pedal steel, also.

We had two favorites, too—songs with similar themes, yet done decades apart.  First up, Chris and the band offer up a killer version of the Bloomfield-Gravenites classic, “You’re Killing My Love,” with Chris’ guitar going into “West Side” mode, with a nod to Otis Rush.  And, after that love is dead and buried, Chris still doesn’t let  it “get the best of me,” because, “while you cost me so much, my Forgiveness Is Free.”

With “Monarch,” Chris Antonik plays out a sage life lesson.  Even tho we’ve all suffered setbacks, the key is remaining resilient, and the grooves in this set offer a healing poultice, indeed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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