‘Pink Lemonade’ might sound like a flavour your pesky nephew might ‘chuck’ over you from his mechanical mod vape kit but is in fact the second album this year from Montana’s ‘dream-folk’ smoothie Chase McBride. Both music and visual art are the stock in trade for McBride, who follows his muse up and down the West Coast of California, as sporadic in his output as he is uncertain of his schedule of inspiration. It’s made for the classic troubadour existence over the last decade since he first arrived in the counterculture state to record debut album ‘From The Mountains To The Sea,’winning “Best Solo Artist” from the New Times along the way.
Ten years later and there’s an all too familiar air about the story of one man’s all-conquering dreams slowly becoming acceptance of a mildly successful and no-doubt artistically fulfilling reality. There’s nothing like a PR press-release casting it’s latest protege as “Nick Drake-esque” that makes a reviewer aware that he’s heard it all before. And so it proves.
Recorded in Los Angeles with well-known producer/songwriter Andrew Helinger, this is, according to McBride, the album where he finds his most comfortable platform. The underbelly of The City of Angels became the focus of the record; if not a concept album then at least a notion that the heartbeat of the city is also that of his songs. This is represented by the title track which tells the story of the girl with the unlikely devotion to the pink lemonade of the album title and the shimmering echoes of McBride’s guitar as he takes the listener along for the emotional ride which ensues. Haunting, dreamy folk indeed. Elsewhere, first single ‘Good Love’ showcases the catchy way with a melody that McBride has developed, not to mention the modest instrumental spaces that create the atmospherics which have come to define his sound.
‘Pieces’ is another memorable tune and the common thread is the common man – the story behind the mundane. This is McBride’s real strength, as he spirals between moods and characters all inspired from his LA wanderings, all the way through to album closer ‘Laws of Attraction,’ the ultimate happy ending – boy gets girl.
There isn’t much in the way of originality within this half hour of California pop fare. That’s not to say that it doesn’t stir emotions, that when the moment comes he can’t strike you with an arrow of poignant truth. Chase McBride is obviously an artist with talent to spare. But there are bucketloads of them around and for every high-flier there are a thousand Chase McBride’s. Ultimately, there’s nothing here that puts its head above the parapet. Nothing with that spark of the virtuoso that elevates a fine artist to the “Nick Drake-esque”.