|Musical Style: Blues Rock||Produced By: Chris Dickens|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2016||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 85%|
It doesn’t take long to realize that When Your Time Comes, the August of 2016 debut full length of Big Chris & D’Bare Bones Band, is a special album. Heading in what it refers to as an ‘in your face and rocked out blues’ direction, Big Chris & D’Bare Bones Band combines a shuffling bass presence, soulful slide box guitars and lower register and gritty vocals to create a sound certain to appeal to fans of Glenn Kaiser Band, Stevie & The Saints, ZZ Top, George Thorogood and Stevie Ray Vaughan. ‘Big Chris’ actually refers to Lebanon, Tennessee based vocalist, bassist and guitarist Chris Dickens, whom has gained previous renown from his work in Mission Of One, while the D’Bare side of things designates not only the ‘bare bones’ as it gets musical heading but also the D’Bare brand of box guitars in which he employs.
Dickens actually got his start under the Missionary One moniker in 2004 with the debut offering Take Another Swig, which skirted heavier straightforward hard rock to guitar driven classic rock and blues based rock territory. Later changing the name of the project to Mission Of One, he followed up in a similar musical vein with the full length efforts Show Me The Way (75% Angelic Warlord review) and Mission Of One (80% review) from 2005 and 2008, respectively. I rate 2013 release Hostile To The Gospel the best of the bunch from upping the heaviness further ‘walking a fine line between blues based hard rock and straight on metal’ while ‘emphasizing the catchy hooks and riffs to draw you in on first listen’ (as taken from the 85% Angelic Warlord review).
Musically, When Your Time Comes represents the next logical step for the artist in that while he backs off somewhat from the heaviness characteristic to Mission Of One, he settles into a natural blues driven groove both vocally and guitar wise. In terms of the former, Dickens recorded When Your Time Comes with his own homemade cigar box guitars, which might not deliver the punch of all out hard rock - albeit coming close in places - but still come across fat and weighty in aligning with the style at hand. From the latter standpoint, I always felt the artist did a good job with Mission Of One, but the bluesy tinctures to When Your Time Comes find him exhibiting a more comfortable range vocally in which he walks a fine line between the lower register baritone and raw and gritty.
Album starts to a bang with “Life’s Just Bad”, a heavy-duty rocker playing up slide guitar harmonies aplenty and cavorting front to back momentum to allow for an understated heaviness. Aptly entitled “Punch In The Face” proves every bit assertive, maintaining the high-energy vibe but not forsaking the concentrated guitar driven at the same time. Innate to the pair are the artists scorching blues drenched guitar leads of the kind certain to turn the head of Glenn Kaiser.
Also with an up-tempo flair but within a traditional blues framework is “Telephone”. Shuffling with its infectious demeanor, the song gives rise to a huge bass line and chugging impetus to go alongside the “Telephone is ringing I think its Jesus on the line” lyrical direction. “Walmart Blues” upholds a similar leaning with its lament in regards to an individual uptight from standing in line too long at the store. Musically, it also stands out as a fun listen in hinting slightly of rockabilly in allowing for another toe tapping bass presence.
Some of the albums finer moments occur when it slows to a mid-paced romp and ups the heaviness in the process. “Giant”, providing a streetwise discourse on David and Goliath, plods and trudges with the best of them with its commanding low end and deliberate temperament throughout. You can tell the artist had a great deal of fun putting this one together. “Rest In Peace” is this reviewer’s choice track. It starts with heaviness, as the snarling guitar signatures fall well within hard rock territory, but also includes albums strongest melody, with a draw you in at once chorus hook to remain with you for some time. Latter era Rez Band couldn’t do it any better.
Album takes a moody turn for the two songs that deal with child abuse. “Girl In The Window” (Google the title for the subject matter) reinforces a pensive disposition in terms of its staunch mid-paced sentiments and artists balances baritone vocal delivery. Another cut understated in terms of its heaviness. “Daddy’s Little Girl” comes across even further haunting, reflective and emotional as lighter guitar tinctures trade off with more forthright rhythm guitars to create a wistful scene. Soloing proves every bit sober.
The moodiness carries over onto the albums grave title track. “When Your Time Comes”, playing tribute to the classic Bride track “Hired Gun” with its “I hope you and Jesus have it all worked out” lyrical statement, is both laid back but incisive in highlighting acoustic guitar and calmer guitars in equal portions. Sticking with the Bride theme, I am somewhat reminded of the ballad “Sweet Louise” (off Kinetic Faith either way). “Thank You” represents a concise worship rock piece - thanking “your precious Son for the work that He has done” during its chorus - that also impresses as easy going in featuring acoustic sentiments along with an airy if not inviting feel.
Artist shines when stepping outside the box, such as on parody cover of the George Thorogood classic “Bad To The Bone” under the new title “Bound For A Throne”. Also rating with the albums more guitar driven, the song maintains the signature melody and ‘rootsy’ guitar flavorings as Dickens stretches by adding some fitting grit and gravel to his vocal delivery. Lyrically, the song veers from the original from the manner in which it traces the early life of Christ.
Lone cut I am on the fence with is “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out”, which as its title implies lyrically draws upon the holiday movie A Christmas Story. Yes, a bit cheesy in places but in a good sense from how it ends a rather serious and somber album with some much needed humor while proving the artist does not take himself too seriously at the same time. I give it a tentative thumbs up as a result.
Artist hit a literal bases loaded bottom of the ninth home run in terms of the superlative production, which almost gives rise to a live feel. Guitars are full and meaty (as they should) in that while not quite touching upon hard rock deliver a resounding presence all the same. A transparent feel allows bass to make quite the pronounced statement as well.
What makes When Your Time Comes so special is how it finds Dickens hitting his blues based stride and coming into his own from both a vocal and guitar standpoint in the process. The album is chock full of his finely honed guitar licks and chops, which stand alongside integral vocals perfectly in tune with the musical aspects at hand. Ultimately, it comes down to songwriting in that When Your Time Comes is bursting forth with catchy and energetic blues rockers in the three to three and a half minute range to garner your attention with repeat listen. Fans of blues-rock and blues based hard rock in general are certain to be delighted with Big Chris & D’Bare Bones Band!
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Life’s Just Bad” (3:02), “Giant” (2:49), “When Your Time Comes” (2:50), “Punch In The Face” (3:35), “Rest In Peace” (3:40), “Walmart Blues” (3:28), “Girl In The Window” (3:39), “Telephone” (3:48), “Daddy’s Little Girl” (4:33), “Bound For A Throne” (3:57), “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out” (3:31)
Chris Dickens - Lead Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Drums on "Bound For A Throne"
Darren Dickens - Drums & Backing Vocals
Tim Burns - Drums on "Telephone" & "Walmart Blues"