Chuck Prophet — the Petty-with-an-edge Americana singer/songwriter/guitarist — has a new CD out, Let Freedom Ring!, which features his imagistic, sometimes-gripping and sometimes-humorous impressions of hard living in a recession-gripped America. The songs are given a stripped-down Rock-quartet sound, a result of recording in a Mexico City studio with 1950s-era equipment.
Overall, the album plays like a soundtrack for Robert Frank’s outsider-compassionate The Americans photo series, featuring the kind of catchy, Folk-tinged Rock & Roll that Tom Petty inherited from The Stones and The Byrds and handed down to Prophet, who added Punk-era insight.
But Prophet does have a reputation for being able to turn heads and throw listeners for a loop with his lyrics. His official biography acknowledges as much, heralding “a vivid parade of razor-edged one-liners.” And if you need proof, try this couplet from the sinewy “Hot Talk” on Let Freedom Ring!, which drives and builds ominously like the Stones’ “Shattered” or Greg Kihn’s “Breakup Song”: “She said, ‘Look up in the sky, there’s a billion stars we’ve yet to even name’/I said, ‘Oh yeah, well look over there, that’s an Indian casino built on a secret burial grave.’ ”
He plays the Southgate House 8:30 p.m. Dec. 2. Get show details, read Steve Rosen's full interview and get Sound Advice here.