Former Altamesa frontman delivers a debut solo album full of Texan-flavoured heartaches and distant horizons.
Hailing from Austin Texas, Evan Charles has up to now been best known as the singer, guitarist and songwriter behind the Austin-based band Altamesa who between 2016 and 2019 released two albums, ‘The Long Ride Home’ followed by ‘Idol Frontier’. Finding that his songwriting style was moving in a direction more akin to Country/Americana as the rest of the band wanted a more Punk Rock approach, Charles has decided to strike out on his own releasing his debut solo album ‘Between Two Worlds’ under the watchful eye of co-producer Scott Davis, whose previous work has included acts such as the Band Of Heathens.
From the opening track ‘Remember When’, Charles quickly positions himself on the rather congested freeway of the Americana singer-songwriter with songs full of heartache, lost loves, and lonely roads. Musically the tracks are mostly guitar-driven, strong on melody and vocal delivery though there are occasions where lyrically it drifts a little towards predictable cliches. Among the highlights on the album is ‘Low Road Runnin’, with its strong beat that creates a sense of motion against the melodic riff of the guitar, whilst ‘Heavy Rains Back Home’ impresses with its acute lyrical imagery that supports the reflective tone. Two of the best tracks come towards the end of the album, firstly with ‘The Return’ with its Cosmic Americana vibe created by the heavy sustain on the guitars, whilst the closing number ‘Horizon Line’ draws comparison with such luminaries as Steve Earle or Ryan Adams with its vocal delivery.
Throughout the album there is some stellar pedal steel playing from Jesse Ebaugh, which along with the piano playing of John Calvin Abney helps to emphasise the album’s Americana roots and rein in the occasional tendency to drift towards a slightly more AOR sound. That musical direction is most notable on ‘Another Heartbreak Slipped Away’ where Charles’ vocals are strongly reminiscent of Rob Thomas from ‘Matchbox Twenty’, which with its rather saccharine arrangement leans suspiciously towards a more commercial goal. The slower piano-led ‘Shattered Love and Last Goodbyes’ drips with the influence of Gram Parsons and though all the basic ingredients for a fine song are here one can’t help feeling after repeated listens that something is still missing. It could be the track needs its own Emmylou, as it certainly highlights the absence of any discernible backing vocals throughout the whole album, the addition of which would have possibly benefited a few songs by providing a greater level of colour and depth.
With ‘Between Two Worlds’ Charles has delivered a debut album that more than highlights his potential within the ranks of the Americana singer-songwriter. His song structures are good and he has a good ear for a melody and though in the main his lyrical themes follow the well-trodden trail of heartache and loss they are confidently delivered. Whether there is enough here to lift him above the crowd only time will tell but for those with a penchant for songs of broken hearts and dusty highways this album would be well worth searching out.