ALBUM REVIEW: Guitarist/Singer/Songwriter CHRIS ANTONIK – “MORNINGSTAR”
Intensity, honesty, resiliency.
Release date 8/5/22
What makes a musician an “artist”? There’s many answers to that but one has to be this. When a musician can endure life’s battles and turn those painful experiences into something masterful, meaningful, and poetic, that is part of what makes them an “artist”.
In Morningstar, Chris Antonik’s fourth studio album, he not only takes us on a journey, but he paints us a picture of the scenery along the way. You’ll see beautiful experiences, painful days, and frustrating evenings, but overall, you see a realization of a new beginning. Presented in a classic blues-rock style, he pushes the limits of that definition. Enjoy this musical journey that explores some real-life issues and leaves you with a feeling of well-being.
This journey begins with “Waves of Stone”, an upbeat, emotional account of a relationship gone wrong. He, with special guest guitarist, Jarekus Singleton, three-time blues music award nominee, share the guitar lead, which makes this a scorcher! The lyrics metaphorically describe how he’s drowning in the silence and hitting a wall in trying to salvage this relationship. The ending seems to indicate an enlightened recovery:
“Now it’s a brand new day, and I’m sailing on my own,
but I still remember your Waves of stone”
“Pilgrim” guides you to a sacred place; a place that is accepting of whomever you may be; regardless of what may be in your past. A song about forgiveness, coming together, and knowing there is something more. This song finds its way into your inner being before you know it. The chorus is so melodious; it takes on a life of its own.
“We’ll be the light in the doorway, everyone can see,
and feel safe in their place on this odyssey”
Chris takes us “Back to the Good” in a kaleidoscope of colors echoing in the music, the understanding that our mistakes do not define us allows us to keep going forward. Many songs on this album feature a sax, a trombone, and a trumpet, which adds a unique touch by going outside the lines of your typical blues-rock album. This is one of those songs.
“Trust In Me” hits home for single parents. It’s not an easy job in a world gone mad. To help express this to it’s fullest, you get some blistering sax action followed by one of the most intense guitar solos I’ve ever heard! Seriously!
“In Our Home” slows things down a bit and gives a slight melancholy country feel with the pedal steel in the beginning. The female vocal you hear is Allison Young’ a Canadian jazz musician, JUNO nominated saxophonist, composer, and yes, vocalist. You also hear her on other tracks – sometimes on vocals and other times on sax.
“The Greatest of the Americans (Part I)” is a brief 1 minute, 53 second intro for part II. It’s just Chris and his guitar with Alison Young on synthesizer presenting a very soothing, Zen type feel – creating an atmosphere of healing and calming. I can almost smell the frankincense and lavender. This leads us into “The Greatest of the Americans (Part II)” as we pick up the pace a bit. As you’re listening to this, you may wonder if he’s talking about two people or two countries; The answer is yes. The relationships between the two can be more alike than you may think.
I want to talk about these next three songs together because they speak in a similar vein – leading from one to the other. “Learning to Love You”, “How To Be Alone”, and “We’re Not Alone” are all about learning, loving, healing, and understanding ourselves and what we have the strength to do when there is no other choice but to survive. Chris describes the conflicting emotions we have all felt at one time or another. Delivered with an optimistic rhythm and truthful lyrics, you may actually learn something; either about yourself, or about how to change your outlook.
“The Promise of Airfields” is a bit different style – a Latin spin offering a promise of safety with touches of a “Santana” style guitar and the only tract with a flute’s influence. Another one-of-a-kind on this album.
It’s no surprise that being a dad is Chris’ main priority. This song epitomizes that. “Little Man” gives us a peak into his “dad” heart. I dare you to listen and not reach for a tissue. His love of being a dad and his love of music come together here and leads perfectly into “Be Here Now”. A mindfulness of “now” – that “now” reflecting all the important facets in his life at one moment in time. This track features two-time Grammy award winner Mike Mattison – musician and vocalist for Tedeschi Trucks Band and lead vocalist/co-founder of blues-rock band Scrapomatic.
A perfect ending to this album is “Grace”. A ballad of gratefulness reflected beautifully by the piano in this song. Losing something doesn’t mean that’s how the story ends. Grace is all you need.
This album reaches outside the box of your typical blues-rock album. Chris has presented this album as a beacon; a lighthouse in the darkness. We can make our own way through the murkiness and create our own outcome instead of allowing the darkness to drown us.
My rating for this album is 10/10
1. Waves of Stone
3. Back To The Good
4. Trust In Me
5. In Our Home (feat. Alison Young)
6. The Greatest of the Americans (pt 1)
7. The Greatest of the Americans (pt 2)
8. Learning to Love You
9. How To Be Alone
10. We’re Not Alone (feat. Paul Deslauriers)
11. The Promise of Airfields
12. Little Man
13. Be Here Now (feat. Mike Mattison)
67:22 running time
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