It’s 2007, people, so it’s time to see if our fair burg is up to the challenge of meeting/passing the amount of quality albums that it released upon the throngs in 2006. Columbus legend Happy Chichester (Royal Crescent Mob, Howlin Maggie, etc.) has answered the call. He has a live solo album under his belt, but he is releasing his long-awaited debut studio solo album, Lovers Come Back, this week.
The title is surely a strong indicator of the over-riding mood of these tunes. Though the tempo does change from time-to-time (the album opener, “Artificial Fanfare (Music in my Head),” is one of the most breathlessly happy songs I’ve heard in a long time), many of these tracks could be termed “Lovers Rock” (if that wasn’t already a reggae subgenre). Which I guess can be a good thing for an album released on Valentine’s Day. Though things do get syrupy here and there, Chichester does a good job of switching up styles enough to keep one’s attention. There is a fair amount of guitar pop here, but interestingly enough, a handful of the tracks in the middle remind me of the Stereo MCs, with anthemic female backup vocals and electronic-ish beats that are a tad gritty. Also, Chichester’s breathy come-ons ride the rock-steady scat groove of “You’re Blowin My Mind” to beboppin’ heaven. Finally, closer “Dude” seems to find Happy humorously pleading with the drunk idiot at the bar to get his act together and bow out gracefully.
Overall, Lovers Come Back is a strong batch of pop tunes with few missteps. There isn’t a great amount of mind-blowing lyrical content here, but the disc could definitely serve well for a late-night get-together. To celebrate the release of the album (and late night get-togethers), Happy Chichester will rock Little Brothers Wednesday night to start a three-concert release party extravaganza that also heads to Cincy and Dayton. As with the other shows, also featured is Shawn Smith and Friends (Regan Hagar, Kevin Wood, and others?), performing songs of their bands Brad and Satchel as well as other Shawn Smith tunes.