Stephen Chadwick - Let’s Do This Thing

Stage Records STAG-019

Houston-based Stephen Chadwick is a seasoned veteran of the Texas bar wars. For this latest album he’s teamed up with multi-instrumentalist Tommy Detamore, who has played on dozens of sessions for George Strait, Kevin Fowler, Heather Myles, James Talley and Sunny Sweeney. He has assembled a crack band of Texas players including Bobby Flores (fiddle), David Carroll (bass), John Carroll (electric and acoustic guitar), Ronnie Huckaby (piano, organ), Tom Lewis (drums) and Haydn Vitera (violin). The straight country production garnishes the ballads with piano and fiddle, and the great Detamore silky steel guitar likewise is woven into the rich honky-tonk tapestry. The songs have a classic yet timeless, fresh sound, ranging from the rollicking fiddle-driven opener Hell Of A Time To Go Crazy to the lithe mid-tempo of Waiting On You, from the bluesy break-up swagger of Can’t Hurt A Man to the infectious swing of Let’s Do this Thing, in which the band really cooks in the instrumental break and the closing minute-and-a-half; Ronnie Huckaby can really play that ol’ piano.

Two songs She Just Might Be A Love Song and What Goodbye Does are perhaps the two best numbers on the album; the former a ballad with sensitive vocals laid atop a tasteful fiddle-and-steel accompaniment and the latter a crying-in-your beer lament in the traditional country style with Sunny Sweeney joining in on vocals. The Mexican-flavoured Here We Are is another hidden gem on this collection. Chadwick’s voice comes across like a beam of sunlight on a dreary winter morning. This whole album is all hugely and instantly likeable with great warmth and not inconsiderable charm. If this was 1994, he’d be up there with the likes of Mark Chesnutt, Tracy Byrd and Clint Black flying the flag for Texas country music, but sadly the Nashville majors have all jumped on the hip-hop Bro-country bandwagon, and good ol’ country like this is sadly out in the cold.
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