Chris Good - From The Ashes 
Chris Good - From The Ashes

Reading Chris Good's website is like the hearing one of those emotional voice over montages on the X-Factor. I'm not trying to be flippant here, the Plymouth based singer songwriter has had enough knock backs to last a whole series of the Simon Cowell show. Never mind a broken marriage and a loss of religious faith, when Chris had nearly crawled in to the bottom of a bottle he stumbled (literally) in to an open mic night and, as so often happens, music saved him from the brink of losing his soul. Now, all that is life affirming stuff but it doesn't necessarily make Chris any good as a musician so we're going to have to tread carefully on his dreams here.

The appropriately named album opens up with 'Cut And Run', a tune full of pure guitars and Good's honest vocals that sound wonderfully unproduced and open hearted. Immediately you get the sense that Chris Good is the kind of musician who leaves it all on the recording with nothing going to waste. The slow, dirty blues shuffle of 'I Just Bring You Down' just confirms this honesty as the intimate vocals tell candid details of a relationship in the last throws of life. 'I've Kissed Your Face' is a more upbeat number but there is still a sense of sadness between the guitar strings, as though this is a memory of a good memory rather than something fresher. The rich, layered vocals that open 'Oh, My Brother' accompanied by sparse guitars shows off just how adept Good is at using silence and space in his songs as well as his musical talents - not something artists at the beginning of their careers are usually brave enough to do.

As you might expect from someone with Chris Good's past, there is a fair amount of darkness on this album and 'Use Me' is certainly no exception as the minimal guitars thrum in the background behind the heartbroken, almost mumbled vocals. Fortunately, after darkness there is often light and this proves to be the case on the next track 'I'll Be Okay' which might not be 'Walking On Sunshine' but undeniably has a greater sense of light at the end of this particular tunnel. The richness of the piano and guitar sandwiched together on 'With Empty Hands' allows Good to go show of his vocal range from fragile to soulful while 'Step Off The Train' has something of Tom Petty about and would undoubtedly go down tremendously in America with its sense of new beginnings coming from the end of something unhealthy.

As we approach the climax of this debut effort, we have the travelling song of 'Watch Me Burn' which is best listened to whilst staring at an open and far reaching landscape from the window of bus or train heading for an unknown destination. Signing of the album is 'Sitting On Your Throne' which is not a song about using someone else's toilet but tackles Good's loss of faith and discovery of his own abilities, all set to some soft acoustic guitar strumming. Chris Good has had a tough time of it, that's a given, but if you ignore that what you will find is a talented songwriter, accomplished story teller and not half bad musician. I hope the man in question is feeling better about life now and is happier with his lot with the gift of music now giving him a new direction. My life has certainly been improved for hearing this album.

More information: