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When life gets real, the world seems crazy and personal challenges mount, true artists face a choice – retreat and express the surrounding gloom, or push full steam ahead, embracing and sharing the joy that balances out the darkness.
One of contemporary urban jazz’s most prolific hit-makers since the late 90’s with 13 Billboard Top 10 singles and 6 #1’s, Chris Standring takes the opportunity on his 15th solo album to acknowledge the sometimes-harsh twists and turns of Real Life. Yet rather than give into circumstances beyond his control, the British born, L.A. based guitarist offers an uplifting way forward – choosing optimism over despair via his trademark vibey, retro-soul explorations and crisp, fluid as ever melodies on the Benedetto Bambino archtop electric. While Standring tackles all the guitars, keyboards and programming, he calls on L.A.’s best to help bring his eclectic sonic palette alive: Mitchel Forman (piano) Andre Berry (bass), Kevin Axt (upright bass), Matt Rhode and Hans Zermulen (Fender Rhodes), Chris Colman and Dave Karasony (drums) and Ronnie Gutierrez (percussion).
The lyrics to the 11-track collection’s sole vocal tune, the sensual, funky, deeply Rufusized “Living The Poetry,” says it all about Standring’s positive vision and forward thinking mindset. Longtime Incognito lead singer Vanessa Haynes sings: “No stress, no strain. . .all shine, no shame, always a solution to this game. . .I’m living the poetry/Feeling only good vibes, hurricane and butterflies/You’re never gonna steal my moment/You’re never gonna take this smile. . .No tears, no fears/And if that trouble comes, gonna be all right…” Co-written by Standring with hit songwriter and 7-time Grammy nominated producer Lauren Christy, the initial vocal tracks of “Living the Poetry” were recorded in England when Standring was there on a family visit. The song also has a prominent 70’s centric talk box feature.
“I’ve known Vanessa for years, and she has gigged with me in the UK numerous times,” the guitarist says. “We wanted to write a special throwback song that would showcase her amazing old school R&B voice. The song is about living your life with intent and purpose. It’s about attacking each day with purpose and commitment . You’ve got to be present in every moment. Life is fleeting and you must take the bull by the horns if there’s something you want to do. The reasons behind why I called the album Real Life are dark, but the album is not dark at all. The world’s in a very strange place right now, and that’s not to be ignored – just as I am facing some very real stuff in my personal life with both of my aging parents’ health dwindling. They both live 6,000 miles away and have dementia. When I see them, I observe huge changes that remind me how fleeting life is.
“Without wishing to remain dark, the album’s theme is a wake-up call that I believe people who listen to my music will relate to,” Standring adds. “It’s this whole idea that you can’t shove things under the rug. I feel it’s not only one of my more cheerful albums but also perhaps the most authentic. I’ve been honing my sound for years, and have refined it even further. When I track a piece of music these days, I strip away all the nonsense so as to let the music breathe and allow the melody to emerged uncluttered. The resulting sound is truly representative of who I am as a musician and person.”
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