You may not have ever heard of Chris Darrow, but you most certainly have heard him. The multi-instrumentalist’s career has been spent mostly in the background, but that’s saying a lot when the background includes playing fiddle on James Taylors’ Sweet Baby James, along with supporting duties on The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy, and numerous other releases. And over the course of his career, he also managed to record a string of releases with his own band, Kaleidoscope. More than 35 years after their release, Darrow is finally getting his due as a solo musician with the re-issue of his self-titled release and the follow up, Under My Own Disguise.
Allman-esque guitar colors the corduroy opener “Albuquerque Rainbow,” hued by a country ambiance that permeates both albums. Darrow’s sound is timeless, whether adding hemming violin to a reggae vibe (“Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down”) or sweating out the blues (“Whipping Boy”). “Java Jive” is old-time, coffee fodder custom-brewed for radio, and the set-closing “Old Scratch” is a working man’s breakdown.
The most poignant aspect of Darrow’s work is the earnest, modest approach and the laid-back expression. These classic albums should have been celebrated upon their release in the early 1970s. But hindsight is twenty-twenty, and it’s about time for Darrow to receive the acclaim that his songwriting deserves. The reissue of Chris Darrow and Under My Own Disguise should bring his legend from the back of the stage and into the spotlight. It is better late than never.
Chris Darrow/Under My Own Disguise is out now on Everloving Records.