Out Of Town

Chris Riffle

Independent release, 2015


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Chris Riffle cut his teeth in the fertile indie rock environment of The Pacific Northwest, making waves on local radio and even opening up for indie giants like Death Cab For Cutie and Mary Lou Lord. But Riffle wasn't interested in just playing music in the Northwest. He moved to New York City, where he didn't waste any time in starting to work with members of The Mars Volta and Bjork's band.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Riffle's first album Out Of Town begins with “Shake Me Up,” a wispy indie pop tune that has a stark feeling with plenty of mass appeal. This is followed by “Breathe It In,” which is even quieter, and Riffle's breathy singing reminds us of Elliott Smith or Iron & Wine. It's lush, albeit in a minimal way, where a maximum amount of beauty is elicited in the subtlest fashion.

Riffle has been largely compared to Elliott Smith, and on tracks like “Count The Hours” and the devastating “Less Traveled” there are undeniable parallels. Though Riffle's voice is cleaner and his wordplay not quite as despondent, his guitar picking and somber wordplay certainly does seem cut from the same cloth.

This isn't to say that Out Of Town is entirely of the sparse, folksy singer-songwriter ilk. Riffle offers several fuller songs, such as the bluesy guitars and heavily emphasis on percussion of “Closer Where I Wanna Be” or the borderline pop rock of “Invincible.” But ultimately, Riffle shines at his most when he is bare, especially on disc highlight “Inspired”. A romantic song, even if in the loneliest sense, it's a plaintive tune that would make even the most happy-go-lucky person question their place in the world.

Chris Riffle is an artist that few people know about but that everyone would benefit from becoming more familiar with.

Rating: A-

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