It is fair to say that a slight whiff of nostalgia can be detected in between the notes and lyrics of Chris Chafin’s Music Like Before. But it is the sort of nostalgia that powers things forward rather than drags them back, an attitude which is constructive and creative rather than merely happy to revel in past glories.

His signature style is that of the low-slung, classic rocker, firing off cool sonic salvos and raising his voice in anthemic glory. Some might accuse him of trying to reinvent the wheel, but I would say that if this is true, at least Chris is smart enough to add some tasteful white walls and burn that rubber until the street is full of smoke. He has woken up the neighbours and then careered off down the road leaving a trail of noxious fumes behind him.

Or, put another way, you may have heard something similar to this before, but you have rarely heard it done this well, so well that you can help but notice him. The songs are deftly wrought and expertly delivered and, for all their reliance on familiar rock moves and grooves, are fresh sounding as well as familiar, not to mention immediate, infectious and addictive. He might be an expert at wielding the rock guitar, but he also has taken a leaf out of pop music’s book. The result is a set of songs that combine muscle and melody, power and poise.

He knows how to rock out, from the staccato deliveries of the title track to the intensity of Common Ground and the brooding, bruised, broody and bluesy grooves of One and Done; it is everything you love about classic rock. But songs such as the slow and sensual Retribution (Jason’s Song), the short, sharp and shockingly good acoustic delights of Epilogue and the slow-burning drifts of Reunion prove that he is more than just a simple guitar-slinger.

Chris Chafin might occasionally glance backwards at a golden age of rock. Still, as he tips his hat to it, he is clearly moving forward and creating a celebratory and anthemic sound for the present day, and in doing so,helping to lay down the foundations of a bright new future for rock music.

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