The wait was nearly over; “I can do it, I can do it, I can actually ring up the radio station and request a song off it!”
That was the message emailed to me by an aquaintence in December. Christian Kane’s major label debut (second first album, if you like) had release dates and it was all official. There was a very big feeling of “At last” in the air.
At last, the album everyone’s wanted has arrived.
At last, when you type in Christian Kane’s name in Amazon there’s an album alongside the television stuff (and not Live Fast Die Never – Angel Soundtrack)
AT LAST wider circles of people will be able to hear what Kaniacs have been saying for years. It’s not important when you walked into the house; it’s that you found your way there.
The House Rules (2010) packs a kick from the titular opening track. The House Rules should be played loud, it’s got bass and balls to it, moving on leaps and bounds from the demo that was around some years ago. It’s a mission statement for Christian and the band and an invitation to you, dear listener, to join the party. Did we mention it sounds amazing loud? The guitars and vocals just pack so much confidence within them and the fiddle sounds aren’t abandoned in the rock. “Country music, a little soul, it’s a rock and roll rodeo” you’d better believe it.
If you had any idea that The House Rules is going to be a false dawn, Something’s Gotta Give gets rid of such notions. It’s not a grower, it didn’t take a few listens, this song’s quality is instant. Lyrically the song seems to be about not taking your chances and how you your life can end up the wrong kind of comfortable when you let enough opportunities pass you by. Lyrically, the song has it as well. There’s the blue collar, boots, tumbleweed points that would have been easy to write badly, but they aren’t lazy stereotypes here. Absolute class in fact.
And this barely getting by is really getting old
And it’s hard to turn the wrench on a rusty bolt
But someday, somethin’s gotta give.
Someone who should know, once said that there was only ever four emotions you could write a song around; I love, I hate, go away, come back. Dress it up however you feel like it but that’s the way it is apparently. So really, if everyone is writing the same basic idea then how it’s done is paramount. Thinking of You seems to be of those “come back” songs, it’s not obvious and out there. It seems to be about the feelings you inevitably get when you’ve broken away from someone, the reminders that smack you in the face, the sense memories and all that niggly stuff that you have to carry with you and YES they happen even if you’re sure you made the right move. Anyone who says they haven’t felt any of this is lying. In the liner notes, Christian thanks anyone who has ever broken his heart. If he is able to come up with this as a result then so say all of us.
Well I know they say all good things
Must come to some kind of ending
We were so damn good, I guess we never stood a chance
The pace picks back up (and then some) with the fantastic Whiskey In Mind. Bass, drums, guitars, fiddle and a song a about a bar, a woman and bourbon. Need we say anymore? Thought not!
She said slide over and kiss me
I got more than whiskey in mind
Let’s Take A Drive is a reminder that when one half of a relationship leaves, the other half is often a shadow of the person they were and takes some, for want of a better word, rebuilding. Let Me Go is worth mentioning here, not only is it along the same break-up themed lines, but it strikes me that the girl being urged to find herself again in “…Drive” is the one begging the guy not to end it with her, here. Maybe not, but at least in Let Me Go the break up was probably for the best (boyfriend from the wrong side of the tracks, maybe not even enough going for him to wear the ‘blue collar’ this time, she’ll never forget him, the leader of the pack… *sound of motorcycle riding off optional, maybe a ’56 Ford*
* the Epiphany and Dead End episodes of Angel feature Christian’s own ’56 Ford.
Callin’ All Country Women is California Girls (The Beach Boys’ one if you had to ask) meets Back In The USSR after a few Jack Daniels Old Number 7’s and a bar fight. I wish they all could be…wearing jeans and cowboy boots! Christian’s good like that you see, if you’ve got something about you, it matters not which part of the country you’re from so take heart, girls!
Seven Days, a version of which is featured on Acoustic Live in London, appears here beefed up and strutting with confidence, complete with a little bit of banjo for good measure.
No review of this album would be complete without mentioning the cover of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car. This version is anything but throwaway and while it may at first seem an odd choice for Christian to make, it fits well. There are many portraits of relationships elsewhere, people making choices to come back, self aware that they are repeating patterns or “making circles” and that they need to breakaway. It then makes sense to finish with a song where one half finds the strength to tell the other half to leave.
You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so you can fly away
You gotta make a decision Leave tonight or live and die this way
The House Rules gives you everything. Songs about love in all its faces, songs that make you think and songs that just make you want to shake the cobwebs off and dance a little. The party’s at Christian’s place and everyone’s invited providing, of course, you’ve come to have a good time. The band oozes more confidence here and Christian’s vocal delivery is better than ever, this album has texture and weight to it and shows more than enough promise for a follow up. Christian, the boys in the band and everyone involved are right to be very proud of this album.
Whenever you jumped onboard, you should be left in absolutely no doubt whatsoever, The House Rules.