In the eyes of Georgia’s Chris Stalcup and The Grange we are all sinners. Saturday night’s transgressions lead to Sunday morning’s regrets that can only be cleansed by the South, a bottle and songs themselves. Repentance weighs heavy on sophomore album, Downhearted Fools, with Stalcup pleading, “Take me so far that I won’t remember her name / Carry my body to Ossabaw Bay / Deliver me to the shores of St. Catherine’s / Where the devil don’t dare stay,” on the backwater baptism of opener “Ogeechee River.”
Raising the volume on 2014’s debut, Dixie Electric Company, Stalcup, Paul Barrie (drums), Phil Skipper (bass) and Michael Westbrook (guitar, pedal steel) punch out the lived-in title track, get as sleazy as the Stones on roadhouse sing-along “(Don’t Let Me) Die Lonely” and take linguistic liberties on the jocular “Get You Off My Mind.”
Blame being a two-way street, the transgressions and regrets that form Stalcup’s downtrodden temperament highlight the sweet spots of Downhearted Fools. Gritty and unadorned, Stalcup is at his best when dealing in matters of the heart as on the he said, she said “Bad Kisser” and the solemn acoustic waltz of “You, My First Love” and its naked honesty. Finding musical catharsis with closer “However You Want Me,” Stalcup and The Grange shine in their abject honesty and brutal truth; a plainspoken poet who proudly bears the scars we all wear, Stalcup may prove to be the George Jones of our generation.
Released by DirtLeg Records, you can stream “Downhearted Fools” below and purchase Downhearted Fools on vinyl, CD and digital formats via Bandcamp.