[Album Review] Eric Chenaux- Skullsplitter
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Release Date: February 17th, 2015
Label: Constellation Records

The opening strains of “Have I Lost My Eyes?” give you fair warning that this is going to be no conventional stroll in the park. The guitar sounds are wonky — right off the rails, in fact. If that puts you off then it may be better to walk away because that wonky sound is not an isolated incident on ‘Skullsplitter’. Furthermore, Chenaux’s poetic lyrics can be challenging to the listener as he muses over the nature of time and its cyclical nature.

If you are OK with these oddities then you will be rewarded with nine tracks of woozy, jazz-tinged ballads. Yes, he croons, and yes, he sings in falsetto, but Chenaux’s vocal delivery is absolutely earnest. He is not being smug or facetious. It doesn’t matter that the violin is strange (“My Romance”) or that the guitars are wobbly (“Poor Time”) or the strings adventurous (“Le Vieux Favori”) — when comes down to expressing the narrative content of the record Chenaux is as straight as an arrow. It’s a dichotomy that makes the album really work.

In a sense, Chenaux encapsulates the duality inherent in many an artist’s message: they want to be fresh, original and innovative but at the same time they want to communicate with you without artifice and in a way you can readily understand. Maybe it’s like having someone recite poetry to you while juggling balls of fire but, hey, what the hell, whatever works, man.