Neo-soul star’s ‘quiet storm’ comeback continues.
STONES THROW. CD/DL/LP
"I ALWAYS said if I got my head screwed on straight I could make one great record where I was honest with myself," Eddie Chacon told me in 2020. We were talking just prior to the release of his debut solo LP, Pleasure, Joy And Happiness, released some 28 years after his brief shot at fame with neo-soul duo Charles And Eddie, and following a good decade in which he’d turned his back on music completely. "I’d wanted to make this album my whole life," he said, but it’s taken my whole life to get there.”
That album, an ethereal, stripped-down collection of haunting confessionals, recorded with Solange and Frank Ocean collaborator John Carroll Kirby, in which Chacon revisited past failures and regrets, his haunted falsetto floating on Kirby’s vaporous synth lines, all underpinned by skeletal drum patterns, was Krapp’s Last Tape via Channel Orange. It was, in Chacon’s words, his “one great record”. So where do you go after you’ve made the album you’ve been waiting your whole life to make? How do you follow up on a swan song?
First you go back to working with the man who made it all happen. Recorded in Ibiza with Kirby, utilising the island’s sole Fender Rhodes, and then bolstered at 64 Sound Studios in northeast Los Angeles, with Logan Hone on flutes and saxophone, Elizabeth Lea on trombone, Will Logan on drums and David Leach on percussion, Sundown is both a bigger sounding LP than Pleasure, Joy And Happiness but also a deeper one. Ushered in by the deceptively simple opening track, Step By Step, a reeling ‘quiet storm’ appeal to “listen to your heart”, reminiscent in its seductive slink of peak-era Sade or Robert Palmer, here is an enticing soul record about barely hanging on (Far Away), losing everything (Comes And Goes), the difficulty of long-term relationships (Holy Hell), blaming the world for your own failures (Same Old Song), and, on the title track, age and loss. Tellingly, Chacon and Kirby say Sundown was inspired by repeat listens to Pharoah Sanders’ cyclical 1975 live track, Greeting To Saud, vibing on its meditative power. That mood is certainly present but so is that seductive atmosphere of ’80s/’90s soul; ruminations on mortality, failure and experience dressed up in a livery of pointillist seduction. The resultant combination is incredibly powerful, an emotionally rich and often lyrically dark album underpinned by both the “be here now” spirituality of Sanders and the “in the moment” seduction of Sade and Palmer. At its heart is a powerful message: if you’ve lost everything you can still embrace the beauty of the present instant or, as Chacon sings on the deceptively light Every Kinda People groove of the final track, The Morning Sun, “The morning sun/Touches everyone.
Sundown is out 31 March, via Stones Throw.
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