CD REVIEW: Chance Hayden - The Family Tree
by: Cyrus Rhodes
"Hayden brings the mojo"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST-
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Pop, Americana, Jazzy Folk, R&B, Singer Songwriter, Psychedelic Funk
Sounds Like: John Mayer, Jamiroquai, Jason Mraz, Bruno Mars.
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Weakness: Short sided CD
Portland based Guitarist/Songwriter Chance Hayden just released his latest CD entitled The Family Tree in 2013. The full-length debut album from Chance Hayden, The Family Tree, showcases his versatile talents as a guitarist, songwriter and producer. The Family Tree shares a collection of songs much inspired by Hayden's entry to fatherhood, connecting his personal roots with the belief that we're all a part of a universal family. The album's eight original works are joined by a lively rendition of Curtis Mayfield's "If I Were Only a Child Again,” rounding out the overall message. With fine tuned intentions for The Family Tree, Hayden chose to spotlight vocalist Redray Frazier who delivers Hayden's lyrics with passion and sincerity. Beneath the vocals lie deep band arrangements with sweet female backups, crisp horns and vintage keyboards that maintain the album's rich, organic feel. Hayden's tasteful guitar work shines brightly throughout The Family Tree which features inspired performances from a dozen A-list musicians. From the first listen this album continuously blossoms and stands to become faithfully planted in one’s musical library.
The CD kicks gets off the ground nicely with the title track a smooth flowing intro piece that serves up slamming horn driven groove meshed against walking bass lines, effective harmonies and soulful melody. Track 2 “New Start: keeps things moving in the right direction with slamming rhythm with steady flowing rhythm, well placed guitar chops painted against a hooky chorus making for an impressive follow-up statement. Track 3 “Here and There” is another impressive jazzy-groove that dishes out rock steady rhythm, impressive and thought provoking lyrical content that flows and ebbs its way through to motional fruition. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 amazing songs in a row. The musicianship of everyone involved (which includes over 10 session players) is above the bar. I would classify this music as classic Pop, Americana, with brief touches of Earthy Folk, even Jazz R&B to Psychedelic Funk of the 70’s. Music is reminiscent of classic John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Jamiroquai and Bruno Mars. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with things like impressive horn sections, saxophone, impressive rhythm and solo guitar, well placed percussion, impressive Hammond Organ, lush harmonies layered everywhere all built upon a thick as a brick rhythm section. What I like the most about this band is how well they seem to groove together, testament to hundreds of hours of writing and rehearsal time no doubt. Now turning our attention over to Hayden's vocalist Redray Frazier - as for his vocal abilities well he’s a great advent. His voice goes down smooth and fills the space peacefully and unobtrusively with a timber that is simply infectious. I might add he takes some impressive vocal risks indicating to me a confident vocal ability. Getting back to Hayden did I mention this guy can make his 6 string talk and even play percussion on a several tracks. All songs are extremely well crafted and consistent across the board - world class songwriting. This CD from Hayden delivers 9 solid tracks all providing musical enjoyment filled with strong musical variety and diversity. The music of Chance Hayden has everything you would expect from a world class musical production. From slamming “When Love Appears” to heartfelt “House of Many Years” to bluesy “Fathers Day” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 9 “If I Were Only a Child Again” the perfect finale statement for a CD like this.
It’s hard to find any serious weaknesses with this release. I do wish there were say 3-4 more tracks on the 9 CD catalogue.
From start to finish The Family Tree by Chance Hayden is an amazing collection of music. The songwriting – the gold standard, all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire catalog. The writing and playing abilities of Hayden and company are rock solid. The melodies and harmonies are well crafted, and the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with good old fashioned no holds barred R&B-Pop-Rock swagger. At the end of the day Chance Hayden brings the mojo and is clearly a marquee talent based out of Portland. One would be wise to keep a watchful eye on him over the years to come.