There’s no doubt Chuck Mead has the appeal to turn a few heads. As a member of BR549, he gained a considerable attention from his Robert Redford look-alike status. Now, Mead will turn a few ears around to his boisterous solo debut, Journeyman’s Wager.
Power driving through the first song on the compilation, "Out on the Natchez Trail," Mead’s top notch assemblage – Kenny Vaughn (Marty Stuart), Audley Freed (The Black Crowes), Dave Roe (Johnny Cash) and Jen Gunderman (The Jayhawks) – helps to round out his Johnny Horton compositional structures. On "Albuquerque" and "She Got the Ring," Mead summons the spirit of Cash and Hank Williams with bashing authority. Flipping between Faron Young and Marty Stuart, "Up on Edge Hill" retains its relevance as Mead arches his voice to hit the high notes in a definitive, shattering fashion. Yet, the disc’s standout tracks are the daily-grind party anthem, "I Wish It Was Friday," and the inspired cover of George Harrison’s "Old Brown Shoe."
If Americana meets The Beatles intrigues, then it’s likely that Chuck Mead’s musical Iliad will not disappoint. Produced with keen attention to detail by Grammy winner Ray Kennedy, Journeyman’s Wager pushes Chuck Mead out the shadows of BR549 and into the warm bask of the rewarding spotlight he so richly deserves.
Journeyman’s Wager is out now on Grassy Knoll Records/Thirty Tigers.