It seems pretty appt that one-time BR5-49 member Chuck Mead would head to the iconic Sam Phillips Recording Studios in Memphis to make his latest as few in the Americana world have come across as easily an instant classic as Mead. Even though the band first came out in the ‘90s they had an instant timelessness to their music that you’d have been forgiven for assuming they’d cropped up in the Sun Studios era. And, much like his former band’s output, Mead’s latest, Close To Home, is just as ageless. Crammed with twangy chords, steel guitar, mandolins and Mead’s distinctive, melodic drawl (a Midwestern/Southern hybrid), this record is classic Honkey Tonk for a modern age.
From the opening, charging chords on “Big Bear in the Sky,” Meads and crew reel through nearly a dozen country swing and barroom dance floor jams, slowing the tempo down ever so slightly now and then, but never for long.
The music is superb, but it’s Mead’s subtle, witty lyrics that really take center stage on this record (like all his previous solo offerings). Though there’s hardly a weak track on the album, the closing song, “There’s Love Where I Come From” manages to be both remarkably simply and simply sublime.