Charlie Worsham

Beginning of Things

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Charlie Worsham seemed slightly over-polished on his 2013 debut Rubberband, so the clever, quirky Beginning of Things comes as a welcome surprise. Worsham still indulges in studio slickness -- this is a major label through and through, a record driven by pro musicians and packaged as a gleaming object -- but he shifts directions from song to song, moving from gentle fingerpicking folk to simmering soul, even cooking up a country-disco groove for "Birthday Suit." This is one of several songs deliberately played for laughs, and Worsham's way with a joke -- which was buried on Rubberband -- is one of the best things about Beginning of Things. With its bubbling hook and train-track rhythm, "Lawn Chair Don't Care" is worthy of prime Roger Miller and "Take Me Drunk I'm Home" highlights his clever wordplay. But Worsham isn't merely a jokester. He has a keen eye for detail and storytelling that gives his songs of love, nostalgia, and the South a sense of place and time; even when he follows convention, he puts his own spin on familiar material. Worsham favors soul and breezy pop over rock and twang, and that means Beginning of Things burns slow and steady, providing a soundtrack for romantic evenings and lazy afternoons. Beginning of Things is cool, confident, and idiosyncratic and, coming after such a cautious debut, it feels like a minor triumph.

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