Chuck Prophet

The Age of Miracles

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For his seventh album, Chuck Prophet updates the all-over-the-map quality that made Green on Red's early albums so bracing. Age of Miracles is rooted in the same country and folk influences as Prophet's other solo albums, but Prophet and co-producer Eric Drew Feldman add a quasi-psychedelic haze and some distinct blues riffs to the mix. The title track, for example, combines a Neil Young-style country-rock tune with a prominent string section playing a woozy high-register part, a funky wah-wah guitar riff that appears to be playing at half speed for full lysergic atmosphere, and a vocal part from Prophet's wife and musical partner, Stephanie Finch (the Emmylou Harris to his Gram Parsons), that's so high it's almost audible only to dogs. Similarly, the opening "Automatic Blues" has a swampy, creepy atmosphere that recalls Feldman's former employer Captain Beefheart, and the downright odd "You Did (Bomp Shooby Dooby Bomp)" has a trippy electronic sheen and an unexpected rapped chorus. In this context, songs like the more traditionally minded "West Memphis Moon" are the ones that sound out of place! However, the combination of country twang and psychedelic weirdness works more often than not, and it makes a nice change from Prophet's recent albums, which were starting to sound a bit formulaic. It's not as big a change as Wilco made with Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but Age of Miracles has a similar restless quality.

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