The conviction that fills music is the life-force of an artist and separates sound from art. All too often this is left out of the process, whether in the artists themselves or post-production. But every now and again a musician becomes truly an artist by transcending sound waves and lifting your spirits or pushing you to the edge of intimate emotion.
If you can’t say you have ever felt this or you have become lost in the oversaturated, overproduced world of modern music, then take a seat, Mr. Christopher Paul Stelling is about to blow your mind.
Stelling’s sound embodies the weary traveler passion that ignited the flame in the greatest blues players. He makes the Mayers and LaMontagnes of the world feel like frauds and phonies while falling closely to a William Elliott Whitmore-like impact. His haunting, shakily delivered vocals resonate with a folk essence, but only as a medium to express their deep poetry. Lyrically Christopher Paul Stelling weaves a world that will have all who listen clinging to his stories without flinching for a moment out of fear of missing any ounce of his sound.
False Cities lifts modern folk, from its gospel roots, out of the mud, brushes it off, hands it a guitar, tips its hat and sets it down the road in the right direction. With a simplistically powerful presence the ten tracks prove that so much can be done with so little.
As if it is the most natural thing for Stelling to do, tracks like “You Can Make It,” “Brick x Brick” and “Homesick Tributaries” echo with images of Americana while they breathe life into a deep dark place. His music is that old rusted out truck rolling through the towns where ranchers still work the fields, where diners still stand as a stage to the local gossip and where people still wave as you drive by. It moves you to your core and allows you to become lost in nearly forty minutes about family, life lessons and a world far from smartphones, electronic beats and man’s produced dilemmas.
I did not quite know what I was going to get when I hit play. What I found, I will not soon forget. Christopher Paul Stelling is not simply a musician or an artist; he is a poet and a preacher of a religion that is found on six strings and memories. You will be doing yourself a great injustice if you even consider passing on this album.