Eric Chenaux – Sloppy Ground

Eric Chenaux
Sloppy Ground

With all of the attention directed to Canada’s music scene over the last few years, it’s a wonder that some artists have yet to come to the public’s attention. Toronto’s Eric Chenaux has been making music for years and years with bands whose names may spark some glimmers of recognition (Phleg Camp, Lifelikeweeds) and begun issuing releases under his own name as of late. The latest, Sloppy Ground, finds Chenaux working with a handful of scene musicians to flesh out his singer-songwriter compositional skeletons.

The songs on this newest release center on observations about love, naturally. Chenaux moves from track to track languidly as if he and you have all the time in the world. This album never hurries anything. On a cut like “Rest Your Daylights,” it can make Iron and Wine sound like a hardcore band by comparison. Yes, this is an album long on observation and contemplation. The violins, guitars, drums, and singing placidly draw out even the sharpest confessions. The storybook narratives that drive the songs “Sloppy Ground” and “Am I Lovely” follow the first-person dramas that mark the CD.

Although light on experimentation, “Have I Lost My Eyes” has an Eastern-flecked Beatles air about it. The wah-wah guitar matches the snare hits, singing, and other strummed instruments into a lock-step pattern that shows a singleness of purpose. By the end of it, though, you may be praying for some sort of variation to break up the repetition.

Occasional lapses into guitar noodling (“Love Don’t Change”) can be seen as an occupational hazard of any solo artist’s record when that artist is a guitarist, and you’ll find some of that here. If you’re into slow-moving, folk-tinged, personal music you’ll forgive these and other occasional indulgences.