Artist Spotlight

Review: Happy Chichester, “Torchwood Loop”

No Comments 10 July 2013

Review: Happy Chichester, “Torchwood Loop”

“With Torchwood Loop, Happy taps into the freedom to piece together absorbing rhythms and melodies, daring listeners to follow him down the rock’n'roll rabbit-hole.”

Artist: Happy Chichester

Album: Torchwood Loop (PopFly Music)

Genre: Rock/Soul/Pop

RIYL: Howlin’ Maggie, Miranda Sound, Royal Crescent Mob, Prince

Happy Chichester Torchwood Loop

There’s a really good chance you’ve already heard Happy Chichester. You may not think you have, but his instrumental and vocal talents have been a part of the midwest and national music scenes for a long, long time. In fact, I can name a band for every major phase of my life that Happy has been a part of starting with Royal Crescent Mob, Afghan Whigs, Howlin’ Maggie, Twilight Singers, RJD2 and New Bomb Turks, to name a few. In fact, Happy is currently promoting both his own solo album, Torchwood Loop, and touring with Brad, a supergroup of sorts that includes Shawn Smith (Satchel) and Stone Gossard (Pearl Jam). So, yeah, there’s a very good chance you’re already familiar with his work as a utilitarian and supremely talented multi-instrumentalist.

What you may not be as familiar with, however, is Happy’s solo work. And when I say “solo work,” this is one case where I really mean it. Torchwood Loop is written, produced and arranged by Happy. It’s also primarily performed, barring some work on strings of all sorts by guest players, by Happy in its entirety. It’s no surprise then that there’s a cohesiveness and strength that lies directly in the pocket of an inescapable groove that threads through every track. Happy’s signature vocals veer from a pure and crystal clear whisper to a raspy rocker scream.

There are things happening on this album that would in no way work if anyone else tried to bring them together. It all starts out harmlessly enough with “Battle,” boasting a great beat and breaking you in for what’s to come. “Motorbike” is beyond catchy, and had me humming along upon the first listen (and for a real treat, watch the video included below). “Messed Up” locks into a tasty soulful groove, riding a line directly into “Sexy Girl.” This track in particular exemplifies a raw sensuality and storytelling quality that mingles with a cheeky bit of keyboard work and a sublimely laid-back swing.

“White Devil” brings a dirty rock feel, and “Glamorous Town” showcases yet another facet of Happy’s knack for making a kick-ass rock track seem effortless. It’s about the time that the instrumental “Thrill of War” comes on that you should remind yourself this gorgeous and atmospheric track is the conception of the same songwriter. And for all the highlights that precede it, “December Is Cold” closes the album with a sentimental vibe that sticks long after the last strains fall away. This album displays a grace, a type of well-earned wisdom that only comes from varied life experience. And for all his musical travels, this material never shows itself as road-worn or weary.

It might be unfair, but I approach every new project that Happy’s a part of with unreasonably high expectations. He’s that good. And he consistently walks the line between soulful lyricism and a capacity for rocking it hard when he wants to. With Torchwood Loop, Happy taps into the freedom to piece together absorbing rhythms and melodies, daring listeners to follow him down the rock’n'roll rabbit-hole. But he always brings us back with an uncanny and comprehensive ability to marry his dynamic writing and rhythmic style with a pleasing pop sound. Happy takes musical risks that consistently pay off, and that’s what makes Torchwood Loop work on so many levels.

Happy Chichester website:

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