After years of performing with local bands, Chip Muellemann chose to go the solo route where his efforts have been greeted with much applause. The Park City, Illinois based singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s latest album, Life On Low checks in as a natural extension of his previous disc, Little Songs, meaning we’re presented with yet another sterling selection of sonic impressions.
Projecting an easygoing voice sandwiched somewhere between the sentimental yearning of Tom Petty and the appealing grit of Joe Walsh, Chip Muellemann delivers his dashing songs with clout and control. The breaks are perfectly timed, and the hooks are thick and solid. Chip also fingers a mighty fine guitar, exercising the capacity to raise the volume and spawn fierce and chunky chords as well as spangly riffs shimmering with verve. Though the apparition of bands such as Cheap Trick, Enuff Z Nuff and post-Mod era Who rest firmly on Chip’s radar, an original outlook never ceases to be stressed.
A witty and astute tunesmith, Chip Muellemann’s lyrics provide a candid view of genuine human feelings and reactions. Growing older and encountering challenging situations is tackled on the title track of the album, where “I’m Gonna Sing” and “Like You” rival the Ramones in terms of spewing angst, as both these great kiss-off songs address the kind of annoying individuals who drain energy and preach self-righteous political and religious beliefs.
Pleasant childhood memories are revisited on “Valerie,” which not only conveys the tale of making mudpies with the little girl, but actually tasting the confection and remembering the joy and laughter that followed. Punctured with a poppy slant, here’s a song bearing visible similarities to a Kinks composition. Further showstoppers contained on “Life On Low” are “What You Said,” “Wild Wind Blows,” and “Playing in the Band” that shuffles to a casual beat and recounts the delights and disappointments of being a musician, from the dream of becoming a star to the reality of having to deal with the biz to getting gigs in dive bars.
Mixing humor with intelligent observations, Chip Muellemann’s Life On Low is an album where the script is just as stimulating as the music. Basically a one man venture — with the exception of “Love You Too Much,” “What You Said,” “Life On Low,” “I’m Gonna Sing” and “Like You” which features the on-fire fretwork of Randy Massey — all vocals and instrumentation for Here’s Chippy are handled by the tremendously talented Chip. By combining the spirit of classic rock with a power pop soul, Life On Low is a satisfying addition to any record collection big on melody, muscle and groovy guitar sounds in general.
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