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Soap and Water

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Album Review

Chuck Prophet began his musical career with the genre-defying group Green on Red, and since their demise, the now solo singer/songwriter/producer continues to duck all attempts at categorization. Soap and Water continues to muddy the waters, but in the most sublime of ways. Much of the set revolves around the blues or R&B, from the swampy sounds of "A Woman's Voice" to the jazzy, finger-snapping "Downtime," the porch-picking blues of "Small-Town Girl," and the Rolling Stonesy R&B riff that powers "Freckle Song." But other influences are equally strong, like the twist of the Beatles that's dashed across "Would You Love Me," the surge of new wave that splashes over "I Can Feel Your Heartbeat" (a song that's the bastard child of the Cars and Mink DeVille), and the post-punk aura that throws shadows across "Doubter Out of Jesus (All Over You)." Invariably, though, the arrangements smudge up the styles, abetted by keyboardist Aidan Hawken, who often counterpoints the guitars with an entirely different genre, conjuring up lavish atmospheres and haunting auras along the way. It's all subtly done, with the productions creating a dreamy, magical quality to the entire set; there is brilliant work from Prophet and co-producer Brad Jones. The many dappled, introspective atmospheres beautifully showcase Prophet's lyrics and themes. Some of the numbers are exquisitely etched vignettes revolving around relationships; others are more fragmentary. "Naked Ray," for example, plops listeners into the center of a sticky situation, like tuning in at the middle of a soap opera. Some omit the back story; a few sketch in just enough details to whet your appetite for more; and others force fans to pen their own "Happy Ending." A master of the metaphor and inventor of brilliant analogies, Prophet knows how to turn a phrase to his advantage or inside out. With a beautifully understated wit, the songwriter amazes with his words and enchants with his music. A lavishly crafted album that one wants to bathe in forever.


Born: 28 June 1963 in Whittier, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Chuck Prophet hit the road straight out of high school in the '80s with the psychedelic roots band Green on Red, and he never looked back. In addition to working as a singer/songwriter, guitarist, bandleader, and collaborator with artists as diverse as Cake, Kim Carnes, Solomon Burke, and Alejandro Escovedo, Prophet's deepening solo catalog of self-produced "sideways" roots rock has steadily become his calling card. Born in the Southern California suburb of Whittier, the San Francisco-based Prophet...
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Soap and Water, Chuck Prophet
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