‘Deep Cuts’ album review
album: Deep Cuts
artist: The Choir
genre: rock & roll
release date: April 23, 2021
star rating: three out of five
review by Levi Yager
I’m always happy to hear new music by The Choir. This legacy rock band has a knack for consistently delivering lively tunes with heartfelt lyrics, and you can find plenty of that on their latest release, Deep Cuts. I believe, at its core, this album is about mercy and our constant need for it. Deep Cuts features themes of love, loss and nearly everything in between – accompanied by vibrant, colorful guitar tones throughout.
“Hurricane” is the first song and one of my personal favorites. Clocking in at six minutes, 14 seconds, it’s also the longest song, largely due to a two-minute, atmospheric outro. Actually, all of the tracks are a bit on the long side, with only one barely coming in under four minutes. “Hurricane” starts the record off perfectly. The ambient arrangements lend to its grand scale and panoramic vista, and you can almost feel the wind whip through the grass and smell the water weighing down the clouds. It’s a song about finding “shelter in the eye of a hurricane,” inferring that relief is found in mercy from people who love you. “Hurricane” is just a wonderful track all-around.
The rest of the songs in the album’s first half are rather hit-and-miss; I think Side B of Deep Cuts is generally stronger than Side A. Though, “Aces Over Eights” is an early highlight that’s definitely worth mentioning. It’s essentially a tribute to the late Tim Chandler, who played bass in The Choir and passed away in 2018 sometime after the release of their previous studio album. “Aces Over Eights” is uniquely hopeful in honor of Tim’s memory, with lead vocalist Derri Daugherty singing, “So many reasons to live; so many good gifts to give. Every sunset is grace; every sunrise redemptive.” It also includes a spoken-word bridge recounting a moment from the last day Tim was seen by his friends.
A couple of my favorite tracks in the album’s second half are numbers seven and eight, “Trouble” and “The Fool.” The former is a cool, mid-tempo rocker that’s bad to the bone. I love all of the compositional choices the band made in this song. The Lyricon (an electronic wind instrument) used as a saxophone, the electric guitar, the tambourine and claps – it’s an exciting mix that keeps you on your toes. “The Fool” follows as the darkest song on Deep Cuts. It’s a slow one that deals with overwhelming despair. The singing, including female background vocals, is painfully beautiful, and the bare instrumentation allows for the vocals to take center stage. “The Fool” can really stick in your mind.
The title track is the 12th and final song. “Deep Cuts” begins with a fun countdown and develops into a meaningful song about healing “your heart from the deepest cuts.” The moving lyrics assure us that we’ve always been loved, and the triumphant, strained guitar solo in the latter part of the bridge is one of many standout solos found on the album. “Deep Cuts” is a great closer that speaks to the wounds in all of us.
There’s a lot to like about this record. I’m sure it’ll please longtime fans, and it probably has a song or two for newcomers as well. If you’re one of those fans, you might enjoy the band’s full-length album commentary, too, which can be purchased from their website. While Deep Cuts may not be The Choir’s best work, it’s certainly no failure. These songs remain a testament to the band’s longstanding dedication to quality music.