Reviews Sundowner We Chase the Waves

Sundowner

We Chase the Waves

We Chase the Waves is the second release from Lawrence Arms singer/guitarist Chris McCaughan. While technically his second solo release, this one is truly an individual effort, with McCaughan handling all the instrumental duties except for a few peripherals. His Lawrence Arms bandmate Neil Hennessy handled the majority of the production. Waves has a more stripped down, personal feel than its predecessor, Four One Five Two, and, as the title indicates, watery imagery permeates much of the record. Thematically, the record’s approach is of metaphorically being lost at sea, going at life alone until you find your way.

Beyond the maritime theme, McCaughan’s songwriting style is familiar from his other work. It comes from a first person perspective, leaning on his vulnerable delivery that oozes regret, relying on his reflected emotion to overcome his vocal shortcomings. His style is that of a shy man pouring out his heart in his apartment—the record, in fact, was mostly recorded at his home, and the photo in the liner notes features McCaughan avoiding eye contact. For the most part, there is an acoustic guitar plus singer with little accompaniment and the lyrics are intimate and direct, as in “As the Crow Flies,” which essentially lists his troubles and, ultimately, his inspiration in form of “I’ve got snow/ I’ve got rain/ I’ve got you all the same,” while going as meta as referencing the songwriting process itself, a technique he repeats “Mouth of a Tiger’s” blunt “I’ve got clichés to write.”

While McCaughan’s range as a singer is limited, his vulnerable delivery defines his work, oozing a sense of lament that is often peppered with imagery from the seasons, the extremes of Chicago’s weather, and the city grid. It creates a sense of place and a personal feel that gives the record a warm and relatable feel. While fans of his other bands will definitely take note of Sundowner, the work stands on its own and is unique enough to find its own fan base.

7.0 / 10Loren
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