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Album review: 'Naked Bourbon'


Chris Bethmann

'Naked Bourbon'


Rochester-based guitarist Chris Bethmann is a storyteller at heart, capable of producing countrified ingenuity in an ever-changing world. Raised on Americana and having studied jazz at Eastman School of Music, he brings a thoughtful, alt-folk approach to the table on his debut EP "Naked Bourbon," released in December 2018.

Bethmann has a nasal, baritone voice with harsh vowel articulation, yet surprises the listener with an operatic vibrato in higher registers. He uses situational imagery to make societal observations in songs like "Blanket" and the title track. While the album's lyrics feel too wordy at times, Bethmann has serious guitar skills, ripping through fast-paced solos as if the instrument were another voice on stage with him.

Each of the five songs is different: from a languid, nostalgic shuffle in "Picture of an Indian" to "Flower City," a heavier, Staind-like song that reflects hard times and a shrinking local economy, to an uplifting, mischievous rebound in "Didn't Use All My Love on You." Chris Bethmann creates musical irony on this new EP, using soft arrangements with hard lyrics to bring motivational awareness to the listener.