Spoiler: This post will be bias. If you’ve read this, you also know I’m pretty honest with my opinions. Not in a “I don’t give a fuck” punk attitude, but rather the lack of need to impress anyone. I mean you love me for the way that I am, right? Good, I’m glad we share the same feelings. Now that we’ve got that our of the way, Chris Stowe quietly released a small masterpiece today in his album “Hollow”.
Many of you may not know who he his, but that’s okay. There’s room on the bandwagon still. I’ve known Chris since I was little. His dad and mine played in bands way back in the 80s when we were both toddlers. We never really super close but we hung out together as kids, then life goes on. Fast forward to fifteen-ish years later, I’m with my wife in a tiny art space in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to watch a childhood friend play some of my favorite songs. (Worship This! and The Homeless Gospel Choir also played. Both of whom I’ve grown to love)
Chris is still one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known, and upon meeting again years later it’s clear nothing has changed. He tells a story in the middle of his set how it’s amazing how life connects people together. We hadn’t spoken in years, but through following similar music scenes we reconnected. It really is quite amazing how music is so much than deeper notes and rhythms.
His first album, “Bleed”, is something I still listen to regularly for it’s simplicity and straightforward honesty. Emotion and passion go a long way when all you’re armed with is a guitar. You can’t fake it. Well, you can try to, but most people will see through it. Chris’ songs are so good because he doesn’t have to fake it. He’s a human, and opens his heart a bit for listeners to hear when he plays. Being a writer, it’s hard to be that honest, and it’s sometimes painful. I thank Chris’ for opening his soul a little bit because it’s helped to heal mine in times of need.
I remember when “Hollow” was announced. I know this because I was delivering a newspaper route in Russell, Pennsylvania (Chris’ hometown ironically). It was about 4am, and my wife just had to call me and tell me the pre-order was up for his album. I pulled the car over, and she told me there were two variants and a shirt with a deer on it. Shortly after that, a deer ran in front of my car. (Not rare as I had seen at least half a dozen on that morning already, but it’s odd how life connects the dots for us). I told her to buy one of each variant (because I’m indecisive, and I mean, why not?). She said, “Already did.” She’s as big of a fan as I am.
“Hollow” is the natural extension of “Bleed”. The same emotion is there, but there’s a bit more variety in instrumentation, backing vocals, and the feeling of completion. At the end of the album is feels like something has been lifted off the singer’s shoulders. It’s hard not to feel that weight linger as the album ends. “Blood Drinkers” is the perfect opener. It opens with just Chris and his guitar and tells the story of the singer falling in and out of love. Everyone sings about love, but goddamn this girl broke this poor man’s heart. Then again, we’ve all felt that stinging pain. Unfortunately, some of us are not musically inclined to let the emotion out as poetically as this.
“Rain” is probably my favorite track right now. It reminds me of when I first heard, “Bleed”. It’s a love song carried by his voice. It’s unique in that it’s raspy, but it’s clear that the man can sing. With every punk guy carrying an acoustic these days, this stands out as his delivery of his music. “Angeline” introduces a harmonica and has an infectious groove to it. My wife’s favorite track right now, “Oh Lonesome” has a haunting atmosphere that sums the entire album. It’s a hollow, bare bones showcase of the human condition. And, it’s beautiful.
The entire album takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. It’s not necessarily the ride you planned on, but sometimes on the great ride bus on life you get let out at the wrong stop. Sometimes you meet an old friend. And sometimes, just sometimes, you make a new best friend.
Purchase it at: http://a-frecords.bandcamp.com/album/hollow-af062