The Bluest Sky “The Bluest Sky”

Independent, 2023

Chuck Melchin plugs his guitar into the ‘90s.

Chuck Melchin has been doggedly working as an independent artist under the name of the Bean Pickers Union with a revolving group of supporting musicians for fifteen years. In 2022 he called last orders on the band with a greatest hits collection, ‘Greatest Picks’. While the Bean Pickers Union may not have set the charts and the playlists alight, they did make an impression on the listeners lucky enough to hear their music, and what press coverage they got was invariably very positive. It is idle speculation, but you have to believe that Chuck Melchin is an independent artist by choice rather than basic necessity because his songwriting is excellent and he knows how to write a hook or two. The Bluest Sky is Melchin’s latest vehicle for his songs and ‘The Bluest Sky’ is their debut album containing 9 new Melchin tracks.  The album was recorded on Melchin’s home turf in Massachusetts and you may be wondering why the name change. While the Bean Pickers Union music was eclectic, it did tend to the acoustic with darkish folk-type lyrics at times, and Chuck Melchin is on record as saying he wanted to make music that is more upbeat, music to drive your car to rather than simply listening to the lyrics.

As well as Melchin, The Bluest Sky comprises Andy Santospago and Gary Goodlow on various guitars, David Westner on drums and bass, with organ and piano by James Rohr and Duncan Watt, and steel guitar by Dan Beller-McKenna being featured on ‘New Berlin’, Paul Gallo drums on ‘I Am James’, and Jon Nolan adds electric guitar to ‘Drive Through Confessional’. The Bluest Sky meet Chuck Melchin’s objective by creating a sound that pays homage to the alt-country bands of the ‘90s. The album gets off to a strong start with ‘Belly To The Bar’ about a predatory woman with Andy Santospago’s guitars to the fore. Chuck Melchin is in more traditional love song territory with ‘The Girl It Took The Universe’ with the Hammond organ and piano joining the mix. We find it is the man who has been wronged in ‘Amy Jean’ and again Santospago’s fretwork is heavily featured. ‘New Berlin’ is a lament for changing times and the sense of powerlessness people can feel and the mood is coloured further by pedal steel guitar. There is a change in backing musicians for ‘I Am James’ but this doesn’t disturb the mood of the album on a track about hesitancy and confidence. The sound of ‘Wake Up Susy’ is more indie rock than alt-country on another love song about following your instincts with Melchin’s guitar and Rohr’s piano as the featured instruments. Say Zuzu’s Jon Nolan joins on guitar for a tale of loss, ‘Drive Through Confessional’. Chuck Melchin’s electric guitar is to the fore on ‘Bunkhouse’ which considers whether you should make a stand or look to live to fight another day. ‘The Bluest Sky’ closes by emphatically driving home Melchin’s requirement for guitar lead tunes as Andy Santospago shows what he is made of with support from James Rohr’s piano and organ.

Chuck Melchin may have decided to change his sound with ‘The Bluest Sky’ but this hasn’t affected the quality of his songwriting, and just because there are more guitar solos that doesn’t mean the tunes and hooks have been forgotten. The quality of the musicianship from the band is impressive as they do full justice to Melchin’s songs and vision.  While the sounds may be new for Melchin, they do not break new musical ground new and echo the guitar sounds of the ‘90s alt-country bands, but that is not a bad thing given the quality of the songs and performances. If you’ve followed Chuck Melchin in the Bean Pickers Union you will not be disappointed with this latest incarnation, and if you enjoyed the alt-country of the ‘90s this is an excellent gateway to the world of Chuck Melchin.




Click here for a Private SoundCloud stream  The Bluest Sky – ‘Amy Jean’


About Martin Johnson 389 Articles
I've been a music obsessive for more years than I care to admit to. Part of my enjoyment from music comes from discovering new sounds and artists while continuing to explore the roots of American 20th century music that has impacted the whole of world culture.
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