Everything moves in cycles, an unstoppable circular motion. This idea is inescapable in our daily lives. From day to night, summer to winter, and life to death, change is inevitable. The wisest of us accept it and do our best while we hold tight to this giant rock hurtling itself around the sun. The best artists embrace change and channel it with all of the joy, terror, excitement, and sadness these cycles bring.
Chris Rattie’s debut album All These Things is born of that acceptance and embrace. There are songs like “So Long”, yearning for the hopeful change of moving onto new places. Opposing this is “The Way it’s got to be”, about a man who has worn out his welcome. For his own safety, he has no choice but to move on. There is the angry ”Burn em’ Down”, boiling over with fury at the injustice in the world, at a society unwilling to change and content to sleepwalk through it all.
All These Things is the most recent step in a journey that began in the coal dust of North Eastern Pennsylvania. The middle child of three brothers, Chris started as a drummer in a family band with his father on bass and older brother John on guitar. He learned as a teenager about the late nights and hard work it takes to be in a bar band. Chris has said, ” I learned by watching my Dad, he used to work sometimes 7 days a week in a factory and still had the energy to rock with us. One summer I worked at that factory with him. We would drive all night after a gig and go straight to work. I’ve always tried to carry that kind of heart and work ethic with me.” In his early 20′s, Chris started writing his own songs. Within a few years he became part of a central Pennsylvania based band called The Rustlanders. The band released an album, began relentlessly touring, and the “big machine” started to take notice.
By 2010, through the unexplainable twists of fate in the music business, The Rustlanders were recording their 2nd album with Grammy winning producer Don Was. The album was recorded in two short weeks in LA’s famed East/West studios. Unfortunately,the album would never see the light of day. A post from late 2011 on the band’s page reads, ” Circumstances beyond our control with our label/management have left us with an incredible record that we are unable to release. It is a heartbreaking situation to say the least.” In the wake of this disappointment and after years of touring, The Rustlanders went their separate ways. Back to square one again. Back to cycles, change, and unstoppable circular motion.
Chris made his way back home to the rolling hills of Brush Valley. He began sorting through the up’s and down’s, the victories, and the failures. It wasn’t long before Chris began writing songs again, channeling all of the experience of living out of a van and playing from town to town, state to state. Throughout the fall and winter of 2012, in a small, isolated studio in Central Pennsylvania, Chris began recording what would become All These Things. Driving over frozen country roads and passing Amish buggies, it was a long way from the fast pace and plastic veneer of a studio on the Sunset Strip. Chris says, “I didn’t know I was making a record at the time. I was just recording with my brother for the fun of it. We were searching for new sounds and looking for a different path. I was busting my ass on a Christmas tree farm during the day and recording all night in this lonely studio, tiring times!” There was a wiser, world hardened voice singing the lyrics now, sometimes cynical, sometimes hopeful. “There’s an end to all these things–this hard life brings” Chris sings on the gentle title track.
With All These Things, Chris Rattie has given us a handful of tunes embedded with the truth. Every one of them, whether hopeful or bleak, embrace whatever cycle the songs character happens to be in. In all of these songs the old constants ; love, life, failure, and resurgence still hold true, and ring through every note. Now, with his band, The Brush Valley Rumblers, Chris is back to it and running the motor hot. This rough and rowdy powerhouse band is the perfect vehicle for the raw emotion contained in his new collection of songs. The cycle has taken a turn towards the excitement of new beginnings. Things have come full circle yet again [+]