Appalachia never sounded so good.
Chicago’s Charming Axe have recorded a set of originals and covers for Gathering Days that is sure to lower your blood pressure and heighten your musical IQ. These folksy, bluegrassy gems, with three-part harmonies and brilliant musicianship, will restore your faith in beautiful music. After leaving the rock and roll touring world, former Elvis Brother Rob Newhouse found his way to the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, where he’s been teaching for the past 15 years. This was also where he met Eugenia Elliott and Hannah Hill. The rest is magical history.
Opening track “Close Your Eyes” (James Taylor) is a two-minute beauty with harmonies that will try to break your heart (listen). "Beyond the Blue" channels Crosby, Stills & Nash at their peak, and that's no exaggeration (and no small feat). “Supper Song” and “Price I Pay” are knee-slappers that will get your heart a-pumping, further showcasing the trio’s range. Another cover, Jules Shear’s “All Through the Night,” is a masterful reworking, as is Earl Montgomery’s “One of These Days.”
The collective experiences and songwriting talents of the Charming Axe trio, as well as those incredible harmonies, make Gathering Days one of 2014’s most listenable albums. Newhouse, Elliot and Hill shine on the Porter Wagoner/Dolly Parton tune “The Pain of Loving You” (watch video). Some musical outlets (such as iTunes) label the group as country, but they are so much more. They sing of heartache, yes, but on a higher plain (and with more instruments). This is true American music and should be on every radio.
“Where Are You Tonight I Wonder,” written by the great Andy M. Stewart, captures the Celtic soul of the original, but it’s done so well it sounds like a Charming Axe creation. Producer Rich Rankin has done a masterful job in making this sound like a Grammy nominee (along with adding his mandolin, percussion and keyboarding skills). Rob Anderlik on dobro and Andrew Wilkins on bass add to the rich and wonderful sound.
Gathering Days is a breath of fresh air that does not pale with multiple listenings. For more information, go to Charming Axe. To purchase, go to iTunes or CD Baby.