Chris D. & Divine Horseman

Time Stands Still

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Chris D. (aka Chris Desjardins) is a guy whose voice practically defines the notion of "acquired taste," his lyrics are ridiculously pretentious as often as they're pithy and effective (if not more so), and he insists on walking through the same dark corners in his songs so often I'm sure he no longer needs a flashlight, but damned if he doesn't have great taste in musical collaborators. Some of the finest players on the L.A. punk scene made their way through Desjardins's best-known band, the Flesh Eaters, and for 1984's Time Stands Still, a country-influenced album designed to highlight the less-abrasive side of his musical personality, Desjardins rounded up a stellar roster of friends and compatriots to help bring it home. Dave Alvin and Bill Bateman from the Blasters, John Doe from X, Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Kid Congo Powers from the Gun Club, Dan Stuart and Chris Cacavas from Green on Red, and Slim Evans from Rank & File are among the musicians who dropped by to join Desjardins on the sessions for Time Stands Still, and from a musical standpoint this is one of the most satisfying albums he's ever made. Desjardins softened the jagged edges of his melodies a bit for these songs, and there's a strange beauty and disquieting presence in these performances that proves Chris makes friends with the right people, especially on the graceful opener "When the Rain Comes Down," the spectral "Little Sister," and the hypnotically powerful title track, propelled by the superb guitar interplay of Doe and Pierce. And while she was hardly a major name on the scene at the time, Desjardins's then-amour Julie Christensen is a consistent and welcome presence as a backing vocalist, adding a calming grace to the music; Chris himself is in typically wobbly and histrionic form, but this time the quality of his surroundings makes up for it.

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